BREAKING NOW: Fashion ‘Die-in’ at RCA Fashion Graduate Show to launch Extinction Rebellion’s call to #BoycottFashion

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  • Royal College of Art Fashion MA student Laura Karup Frandsen will not be showing a final collection in protest at the waste and suffering caused by the global fashion industry
  • Instead she has decided to host a ‘die-in’ at the RCA Graduate Show to urge people to disrupt the fashion industry for the launch of Extinction Rebellion’s  #BoycottFashion drive which asks people to refuse to buy new clothing or materials for a year
  • ‘Collecting waste, instead of making a collection, is my personal protest against a broken system. We need to decide: is fashion to die for?’ Laura Karup Frandsen, RCA Fashion MA and member of Extinction Rebellion
  • ‘I refuse to let my daughter’s future – and this amazing planet, its people and its animals – be destroyed, so that the world can keep producing billions of garments we no longer need’ Bel Jacobs, former Fashion Editor of Metro newspaper and Extinction Rebellion spokesperson
  • Fashion designer Phoebe English expressed her support “The fashion industry is a hugely damaging and wasteful industry and a huge contributor to global warming and we cannot pretend otherwise’

Around 20 Extinction Rebellion activists are currently staging a fashion ‘die-in’ at the Royal College of Art Graduate Show in Mayfair’s Cork Street Galleries, to launch Extinction Rebellion’s #BoycottFashion – a campaign urging supporters to disrupt the fashion industry by refusing to buy new clothing or materials for a year.

RCA Fashion MA student Laura Karup Frandsen has chosen not to show a final collection in protest at the waste and suffering caused by the global fashion industry. Wearing repurposed t-shirts, the 20 people are simulating a mass death to call the fashion industry to account over its environmental footprint. To find out more about #BoycottFashion and get involved at www.xrfashionboycott.com, which has already been growing organically, with over 3,000 people following through social media. [1]

Waste, water use, deforestation, chemical pollution affecting biodiversity, human and animal rights abuses and carbon emissions: all are cited as driving reasons behind the boycott.  

Laura Karup Frandsen said: ”Thoughtlessly using and discarding resources, in a time of climate emergency and ecological breakdown, shows how far we are from understanding the extent and urgency of the crisis that threatens our existence. Collecting waste, instead of making a collection, is my personal protest against a broken system. We need to decide: is fashion to die for?”

The Extinction Rebellion #BoycottFashion team

The Extinction Rebellion #BoycottFashion team comprises fashion industry experts who will be taking the simple action of ‘not buying any new clothing’ and will support others with ideas for engaging with clothing in different ways. Sharing practical actions, Extinction Rebellion #BoycottFashion aims to inspire people to turn their backs on destructive mainstream fashion and to tread a new, environmentally friendly path. For those faced with having to buy necessities new, Extinction Rebellion will be on hand with helpful advice.

Notable supporters who have commited to #BoycottFashion include Caryn Franklin, comedian Heydon Prowse and fashion designer Phoebe English who said: “I am supporting Extinction Rebellion’s fashion boycott. Despite being a producer of clothes, I CANNOT UNKNOW THE FACTS. And the facts are clear, the fashion industry is a hugely damaging and wasteful industry and a huge contributor to global warming and we cannot pretend otherwise. We have been working hard to replace the materials we once used with more positive options and are proud to stand by Extinction Rebellion as they continue to tell it LIKE IT IS.”

The movement’s instagram account (@xr.boycottfashion/) features portraits of those signed up to the pledge from fashion insiders to fashion students all detailing their reasons for joining #BoycottFashion.

“We are in a climate and ecological emergency,” says Bel Jacobs, former fashion editor for Metro newspaper. “And the mass consumption of fast fashion is making the situation much, much worse. We do not need any more clothing. We should understand the terrible impact of our current consumption habits and take care of what we already own. I refuse to let my daughter’s future – and this amazing planet, its people and its animals – be destroyed, so that the world can keep producing billions of garments we no longer need.”

Fashion Tell the Truth

The boycott is a new tactical development in Extinction Rebellion’s continuing campaign to persuade fashion and its associated industries to Tell the Truth about the climate and ecological emergency and to act in accordance. So far they have disrupted London Fashion Week with ‘swarming’ roadblocks and, in April blocked Oxford Circus – the epicentre of fast fashion – to create a catwalk of sustainable and anti-fashion garments. Plus on 1 June, Extinction Rebellion Bristol staged the ‘Stop the Circus of Excess’ action at Cabot Circus to sound the rallying call to #BoycottFashion as part of #XR52.

Alice Wilby, Sustainable Fashion Short Course tutor says: “We have reached peak stuff. Our planet is not a bottomless pit of resources. Fast Fashion no longer just refers to cheap mass produced clothing, it sums up the rapid, rapacious way we consume and discard, even designer brands. I’m calling for a boycott of brands who are destroying our environment in the name of profit. It’s time to reframe how we interact with clothing and cultivate style that is sustainable for us and the planet.”  

With daily news about climate breakdown and biodiversity collapse across the world, scientists say we are running out of time to tackle these converging crises which threaten the very fabric of society and the survival of future generations. #BoycottFashion to save the planet now.

Why #BoycottFashion?

The arguments against fast fashion are clear. Total greenhouse gas emissions from textile production is more than those of ALL international flights and maritime shipping combined. [2] A  2017 report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that, if the fashion industry continues on its current growth path, it could use more than a quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050. [2] At the same time, 34.5% of primary microplastics are due to laundry of synthetic textiles. [3]

And the situation looks set to get worse: according to the Pulse Report 2019, global apparel production is projected to rise by 81% by 2030; from 62 million tons today to 102 million tons. [3] The effects on the planet are predicted to be beyond repair.

Overconsumption is matched by waste. Worldwide, the average number of times a garment is worn before it ceases to be used has decreased by 36% compared to 15 years ago. [2] Worldwide, fewer than one per cent of garments are recycled into new clothing and only 20% of textiles are recycled at all. [4] In the UK alone, £140m worth of clothing goes to landfill each year, contributing to methane emissions. [5]

Massive labour rights and animal abuse also plague the industry. [6,7] According to Human Rights Watch, “in countries around the world, factory owners and managers have been known to fire pregnant workers or deny maternity leave; retaliate against workers who join or form unions; force workers to do overtime work or risk losing their job; and turn a blind eye when male managers or workers sexually harass female workers.” [8] Meanwhile, over one hundred million animals are bred and killed for fur, while a further billion are killed for leather. [9] These animals endure horrific lives and brutal deaths – all in the name of fashion. [10]

Notes

[1] Total number of followers on Instagram and ‘attending’ or ‘interested’ on Facebook

[2] https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/A-New-Textiles-Economy_Full-Report_Updated_1-12-17.pdf

[3] https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2017-002.pdf

[4] Global Fashion Agenda Pulse of Fashion Report 2019 https://www.globalfashionagenda.com/pulse-of-fashion-industry-2019-update-released

[5] https://www.commonobjective.co/article/the-issues-waste

[6] http://www.wrap.org.uk (report: valuing our clothes the cost of UK fashion)

[7] http://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/bangladesh-garment-workers-fast-fashion-brands

[8] https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods

[9] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/essay/transparency-in-apparel-industry

[10] https://www.hsi.org/news-media/fur-trade/

[11] https://www.peta.org.uk/issues/animals-not-wear/leather/

[12] About Extinction Rebellion: Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the sixth mass species extinction and abrupt, runaway climate change. Human extinction is a possibility, if rapid action is not taken. XR believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by its Government. XR’s key demands are: 1) Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.2) Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. 3) Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

[13] The fast fashion industry needs to be challenged.

Environmental impacts

·           Every year, around half a million tonnes of microfibres released by washed garments contribute to ocean pollution – 16 times more than plastic microbeads from cosmetics (3)

Making a pair of jeans produces as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 80 miles.

Discarded clothing made of non-biodegradable fabrics can sit in landfills for up to 200 years.

It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt, enough to meet the average person’s drinking needs for two-and-a-half years.

Intensive cultivation of cotton crops contributes to loss of biodiversity (22% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides are applied to cotton crops) (1)

20% of freshwater pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing (2)

Textile production is also responsible for the loss of habitat (30% of rayon and Viscose come from pulp sourced from endangered forests) (1)

Social impact

According to non-profit Remake, 75 million people are making our clothes today; 80 percent of apparel is made by young women aged 18 to 24.

Garment workers, primarily women, in Bangladesh make about $96 per month. The government’s wage board suggested that a garment worker needs 3.5 times that amount in order to live a “decent life with basic facilities.” (6)

A 2018 U.S. Department of Labor report found evidence of forced and child labor in the fashion industry in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam and other countries. (7)

Over one hundred million animals are bred and killed on intensive fur farms specifically to supply the fashion industry in the fur industry (9). More than 1 billion animals are killed worldwide for the leather trade every single year, from cows and calves to horses, lambs, goats and pigs, dogs and cats (10).

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