Recently the Diocese of Lichfield and Transforming Communities Together held an evening of action called Re:Dress, tackling the fashion industry and their role in modern slavery and the environment.
They had a fashion show with ethical outfits, prayer stations around the church, and short talks about human trafficking and climate change. We asked the team – Abbie, James, Lindsey, and Pete - how they put on the event and created this guide to planning your own.
1. Find some volunteer models
You can’t have a fashion show without models! Ideally you would have both men and women, with a diversity of ages, body shapes, and fashion styles. Show the audience that it’s possible for anyone to shop slavery-free.
As the curate at the Wolverhampton church hosting the event, Abbie asked members of the congregation, particularly young people, if they would like to be involved. The group also sought out people they knew who were already committed to charity shop shopping, inviting them to share their skills. Finally a call went out on social media, picking up a few more people that way.
2. Set your models a charity shop challenge
Your models need to be up for a challenge, because you won’t be designing clothes for them! Instead you are setting them loose in your local charity shops. You can set your models a budget, or ask them to dress to a particular theme or occasion.
The Lichfield team went for a £20 challenge, asking people to get as much as they could for that small sum. Everybody ended up buying at least two items, with others managing to add bags, shoes, and even jewellery to their ensemble. There was a bit of friendly competition, as a few models bagged some designer threads, including a Ralph Lauren shirt.
During the event they gave each model the opportunity to share how their outfit had come together, including how much they had paid for their bargains, and which charity shop they got them from.
3. Find a venue with a catwalk
This shouldn’t be too difficult, all you need is a church with a central aisle! Decide in advance how you would like to configure your catwalk. If it’s a big church (or a Cathedral!) going all the way down may be a bit far, particularly for those in heels. In a smaller church with side aisles, perhaps your models could walk in a circle, making sure everyone gets to see their new threads.
In Lichfield, they had a venue with a PA system, great if you want to play music or videos during the event. They also had space for a marketplace, where they invited local artisans to sell their own ethical goods as well as charities working to end modern slavery. Alongside, they hosted a clothes swap, showing how easy it is to pick up a new outfit without harming the environment.
4. Highlight the issue
Think ahead of time about how you’re going to highlight the key issues. Will you have a talk? Or a series of stories? At Lichfield they decided to get the models to parade down the catwalk a second time, holding signs displaying the big statistics of and key messages about modern slavery, the environment, and the fashion industry.
Re:Dress was particularly about the Christian response to these modern day challenges, which guided the whole evening, including the talks that James and Lindsey gave. They had prayer stations around the church, so people could reflect more deeply after the event, and featured a spoken word piece called ‘Letter to a Trafficker’.
5. Give your attendees a follow on action
What will your attendees go away with? Hopefully they will have had a fun evening, but we also want your guests to be inspired and encouraged to act. In Lichfield, the team devised three follow on actions and printed them on t-shirt shaped pieces of paper for everyone to take away:
My next clothing purchase will be second-hand
I won’t put any textiles in landfill in 2019
I won’t buy any new clothes during Lent
You could do the same, or get everyone to sign a pledge about changing their shopping habits. They could even sign a petition, or send an email to their favourite high street brand asking about their ethics. There are lots of ways to make a difference in this area, but sometimes people need a little nudge to find them!
Find out more about the work of the Diocese of Lichfield and Transforming Communities Together here, or get hold of lots of more ideas and materials to help your raise awareness of modern slavery on our Resources page.