A Chat With Orsola De Castro, One Of the Founders of Fashion Revolution Day

By Rachel Kibbe

A Chat With Orsola De Castro, One Of the Founders of Fashion Revolution Day

 

Orsola De Castro

Photo credit: Tazmin Haughton

We've had our eyes on the female power duo behind Fashion Revolution Day, Carry Somers and Orsola De Castro, for some time now. Falling every year from April 24 and extending through the week until the 20th, their movement memorializes over 1,000 workers who died in a garment factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2012. We were excited to get the chance to catch up with Orsola, and to share with you what she had to say.

 

Tell us a little about FRD and how you got the idea to start it?

The idea for Fashion Revolution Day as a day of respect for garment workers came to Carry Somers, a few days after the Rana Plaza Collapse. She called me immediately and it felt very pertinent to me - I had been discussing the disaster at length with Lucy Siegle and Baroness Lola Young and we were all so beaten by it, as it was so predictable in so many ways, a tragedy waiting to happen.

So when Carry called, I jumped, and I guess the rest is history. We put together the team, and created the basis for what has now become a truly global movement.

 

What is your background?

Fashion, but on my own terms.

In 1997 I founded From Somewhere, the first upcycling label to create collections from surplus from the luxury industry (remnants, off cuts, stock fabrics) as well as post consumer waste. We designed and produced upcycled collections for Robe Di Kappa, Jigsaw, Tesco, Speedo and Topshop.

I was also founder and curator if Estethica, the British Fashion Council area dedicated to sustainable design at London Fashion Week, which run from 2006 to 2014.

 

What is FDRs accomplishment that you are most proud of? How can people get involved?

 I am proud of everything we have achieved with Fashion Revolution: being present in over 92 countries, all our international country coordinators, our core team which is made up of individuals I couldn't have more respect for, our immense reach, the fact that there is so much love for what we are doing from such a broad spectrum of people.

But I guess my favourite project is the #haulternative, where we work with influencers and youtubers and ask them to change their attitudes to buying and caring for clothes, encouraging slower consumption. So we talk about loving clothes longer, mending, swapping, and so many people have done their own. You can download our PDF and make your own haulternative http://fashionrevolution.org/get-involved/ways-for-everyone-to-get-involved/

Another way to get involved is simply to subscribe to our newsletter!

What's in the works? What are your latest projects with FDR and what's your next big goal? 

We have a very exciting year ahead. Our theme this year is Money Fashion Power and we are exploring the imbalances across the supply chain but also how fashion affects us all, and how our financial decisions will affect millions of workers.

We are launching a Fanzine in December as well as collaborating with The Microfinancing Organisation in a project called the Financial Diaries, where we will look at data from garment workers in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia, looking at their spending habits in order to make the case for a fair and just living wage.

We are also continuing with our Transparency Index, this time analysing 100 brands on their publicly available information regarding their sustainable practices.

On a personal level, I have been made Visiting Fellow at Central Saint Martins, and I am already a practitioner in residence for their fashion MA, so I remain committed to making sure that young designers discover the multiple facets of thinking and designing with sustainability in mind, and how to see this not as a challenge but as the start of a great journey.



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