Last week the Fashion Revolution debuted their first event in Malaysia's capital. An important movement, that has now spread to over 70 countries worldwide, found its way here to the rapid city of Kuala Lumpur to spread the words "Who made my clothes?"
The event was held at Kuala Lumpur's Impact Hub, a community space created as a collaboration area for like-minded individuals with a strong passion for social innovation and an appetite for positive change. Dozens showed up to show their support and learn about the harsh social and environmental impacts that fashion is having on our world.
With Malaysia’s rapidly growing retail industry surpassing 110 billion US dollars in 2015 and big brand names hastily setting up shop across KL, now is a more important time than ever to start raising awareness about the problem with fast fashion.
Laura, country coordinator for Fashion Revolution Malaysia, and Sasibai, also country coordinator for Fashion Revolution Malaysia and CEO of Earth Heir, coordinated a social, informative and imperative night for all, which included a clothes swap allowing guests to bring in and swap clothes with one another. Walls scattered with posters depicting various ways in which fast fashion has affected our earth and its people, a poster outlining the Millennium Development Goals stood at the doorway creating awareness about the link between the fashion industry and obtaining women's equality worldwide. Guests mingled around the designated clothes swap area networking with other like-minded individuals, or amused themselves with selfies of the underwear shaped cut outs that were placed there illustrating important facts about the issue at hand.
The main event would be the screening of Andrew Morgan's ‘The True Cost’, an award winning documentary carefully peeling back the layers of the supply chain and sharing with us the true cost of the fashion industry, both socially and environmentally. Afterwards we would hear from ethical fashion experts and business owners Cheng Woi Tan, CEO of Nukleus, Amy Blair, CEO of Batik Boutique and coordinator Sasibai Kimis, CEO of Earth Heir.
By 8pm the room was full of people who had come here with a clear concern that something in the industry wasn’t right. Eager to expand their awareness and understanding of the issue, they watched on at the confronting and heart-wrenching documentary that outlines the horrifying gap between the world’s richest and the worlds poorest, exposing an industry that blatantly exploits the world’s most vulnerable.
It was hard not to be moved by Morgan’s depiction of an industry that has for so long turned a blind eye to the social and environmental impact of its capitalistic goals. After the film the audience had many questions for the panelists who spoke at length of the almost insurmountable solution and their efforts to begin the cultural shift towards a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry. It was a lucrative event, with many discussions made and awareness spreading throughout all who attended.
Like anything else in this fast paced city, Laura and her Fashion Revolution co-workers hope that the words “sustainable fashion” will spread as fast as the hundreds of high-rises going up on every corner of Kuala Lumpur. The end goal may be complex, but through starting the discussion and asking the question “who made my clothes?” we move closer to an industry driven not by the exploitation of others but by the fair and just practices it embodies.