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INTERVIEW BEYOND20


‘Resilienceisnothing withoutvisibility’


FASHION REVOLUTION’S FOUNDER TELLS JACOPO DETTONI ABOUT HOW THE PANDEMIC HAS MADE THE NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY GREATER THAN EVER


used to be as cheap as south Asia can be today. What did Italy do? It created an industry that was based on dignity and on transparency, where everybody could see what was being done. And that worked really. It grew commu- nities. The Veneto region, in the Vicenza area, at one point was as rich as California, and that was because of industrialisation, and in par- ticular the fashion industry. But we also know that this industry was


highstreets shut downand customers at home, fashion brands scaled down orders and opera- tions, throwing into jeopardy the salaries of millions of people working in the supply chain. These troubles once more brought to the fore the debate around the social and envi- ronmental sustainability of the global fashion industry. “The tragedy is that it takes a tragedy for people to become aware of what’s going on,” says Orsola De Castro, the founder of Fashion Revolution, a non-profit movement campaigning for more transparent supply chains in the industry.


T


Q A


What is your opinion on the state of the fashion industry today?


Never before have I been more reminded of the reasonwhy Fashion Revolution came to


be in the first place, which is the Rana Plaza dis- aster in Bangladesh in 2013. There are these moments when it is as if a giant magnifying lens is looking at what is happening and really highlighting what needs to be seen. Because this is an industry that has deliberately designed itself to be opaque. There were periods when this industry was


respectable and dignified. When the fashion industry moved to Italy, it did so because Italy


48


he Covid-19 pandemic has sown disrup- tion across the global economy, and the garment industry is no exception. With


born exploitative, and the moves to other shores and other producing countries was sig- nificantly in order to exploit. Again, I speak from experience. When in the Veneto region near Montecchia the river became so appall- ingly polluted because of the leather tanning industry, the local government tried to enforce different regulations within a year. Pretty soon after that the factories moved to China. So the move to producing countries were deliberate moves to hide the exploitation and toxicity of the supply chain.


Q A


How has Covid-19 disrupted the supply chain in the industry?


With Covid-19,workers areowed billions in unpaid wages, because of order cancella-


tion, while fashion tycoons have made a for- tune from online sales during the pandemic. What this industry needs is radical andmanda- tory transparency, because although transpar- ency will not necessarily lead you to best prac- tice, it leads you somewhere. Shorter and more resilient supply chains mean nothing unless they come with the word ‘visible’ before them. Covid-19, but in particular the Black Lives Mattermovement, highlighted the importance of this visibility. The younger generations are ready to scrutinise. They no longer take fashion like fish take a hook: stupidly. Black Lives Matter was instrumental in changing the atti- tude for that generation. That will demolish the fashion industry when this generation comes to power.


Q A


Do you see already anymajor adjustment in the industry in this direction?


I do indeed, but I think the main problem that we are witnessing is the fact that the


mainstreamis invasive, and does not leave ade- quate space for those brands that do have the smaller, resilient supply chains.


www.fDiIntelligence.com April/May 2021


Artwork by Sam Kerr, based on a picture by Tamzin Haughton


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