“Can I ask where you got your sweater?” she says to the barista behind the counter.
“Oh my god, I love Old Navy — practically my whole wardrobe is from there,” she replies.
“Yeah, I always find great stuff there.” The barista pours a soy latte into a to-go cup.
“I once bought a pair of pink pants there for 97 cents.”
“Yeah, even if you only wear them once it doesn’t matter.” She counts out a handful of change.
“Totally, it’s like how can you not? I dressed up as a Barbie, got one wear out of them, and it was worth it,” she grabs her coffee off the counter.
I’m standing in line, listening with a sinking feeling in my stomach. It’s moments like these when I realize the tiny bubble I live in. It’s the bubble that dupes me into thinking that people know it isn’t cool to find 97 cent pants anymore. Because somewhere, on the other side of the world, there is someone else paying the price for them.
I’m misled by my Facebook feed and Twitter stream to think that real conversations are happening about where our clothes come from, who makes them, and what we can do differently to change the fashion industry.
And while part of that is true, the conversations are far less frequent than I’m led to believe.
So that’s why I took the opportunity to jump on a last-minute train Sunday morning and go to New York City for a whirlwind 24 hours.
At 5:30 p.m. on Sunday night, myself and a small group of sustainable fashion thought-leaders met in the lounge of model and journalist Yomi Abiola’s apartment building. For two hours, we met to map out the U.S. branch of Fashion Revolution Day, an extensive social media campaign starting on January 1st to get consumers asking, “who made my clothes?”
On April 24, 2014, the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, the first annual Fashion Revolution Day will bring attention to a global movement. There will be events in NYC, London and other parts of the world, and consumers will be encouraged to wear their clothes #insideout.
In the two hours that the 10 of us brainstormed, discussed and debated, the same big question kept coming back up: “how do we get the consumer to care?” Because it’s not until the consumer demands change that big brands and the fast-fashion giants will be pressured to do something about it.
In other words, how do we get the girl in the coffee line to see the fundamental flaw in being able to buy a pair of pants for under a dollar?
It’s an exciting time — and the first real opportunity to bring together industry leaders from around the world to promote one massive movement that speaks directly to those with the purchasing power.
But in order to make real, marked change, we need everyone behind it.
So mark your calendars.