Curation and Social media: a case study of Fashion Revolution


Curation is a practice that involves obtaining, managing, and presenting information (Dekker and Tedone, 2019, p. 85). Irrespective of whether it is executed computationally or manually, the fundamental feature of curation is the filtering process that guides the selection and sharing of information (Khan and Bhatt, 2019, p. 2). With technological advancements such as social media, curation has undergone extensive radical transformation primarily in the interactivity and computation and is more focused on the networks and processes instead of objects. Dekker and Tedone (2019, p. 86) discuss about the networked structures of collaboration and care instead of objects, and this is occasioning the alteration of existing collections.

Curating is concerned with preserving and organizing how collecting is concerned with organizing and preserving items, as well as producing and creating ways of perceiving the world. Social media curation is defined and shaped by its content, and the structure of the systems used by artists and curators (Dekker and Tedone, 2019, p. 86). Social media curation has become a popular way of constructing the truth for every individual.

In light of the foregoing, this blogpost focuses on the fashion industry, particularly the Fashion Revolution organisation usage of social media curation on Instagram. Apart from discussing what social media curation entails, this paper highlights the challenges that lack of awareness contributes to the fashion industry. It shows the different problems and how the Fashion Revolution is using social media curation to generate solutions. It evaluates these solutions and proffers recommendation on the way forward.

Social Media Curation

Curators play fundamental roles in traditional curation (Khan and Bhatt, 2019, p. 2). However, with social media curation, organisations can scale their campaigns using the pace of the internet, without exhausting all their resources contained in their seminal content. Social media curation allows for organisations to be recognised as thought leaders and dynamic content creators. For example, when an organisation constantly posts high-quality news shows that it is aware of what is happening throughout the world, and hence their input should be taken seriously (Haskins, 2007, p. 402).  Moreover, Watkins et al (2015, p. 3424) add that using curated content allows the organisation to reveal their personality while attracting followers who are known for posts that are worthy of going viral.  To create buzz and trigger feedback, social media curation facilitates the sharing of links that send beneficial traffic back to their sites, rather than reflecting them to other sites.  More so, irrespective of the marketing objectives, having content that is compelling and timely is essential in contributing to important conversations (Tan, 2018, p. 82).

Social media curation entails filtering through vast content on the internet and sharing the most insightful videos, infographics, articles and news on social channels (Khan and Rodrigues, 2015, p. 23). It is a premise that there is no need to produce or write all the content that is published.  Curating content on social media is concerned with searching content that audiences will deem as significant, and then reposition themselves in a way that serves the target audience and the organisation.  Curators on social media aim to disseminate information to new audiences through tactically identifying and sharing content emerging from larger streams (Brun et al, 2020, p. 4430). These content curators peg their reputation on the value of information that they distribute from their audiences’ perspectives. However, in ascertaining the purpose of curation, the end audiences will only receive the preferences and ideas of the curators; the curators construct their truths (Khan and Rodrigues, 2015, p. 24). 

Nonetheless, owing to the diverse nature and unique preferences of social media users; the role of social media curators shifts to accommodate the different preferences, away from the conventional mono-sided curation (Brun et al, 2020, p. 4431).  On popular social media platforms like Instagram, users rely on photographs to construct and communicate their truths. The next section delves into the Fashion Revolution case study, that focuses on its collection on Instagram.


Fashion Revolution is an organisation that was formed by Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers in response to April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh that killed 1134 and injured 2500 workers (Kabir et al, 2018, p. 225). The eight-storey garment factory collapse was the deadliest structural disaster in the history of the garment making industry.  It was established that the Rana Plaza was constructed using sub-par materials under suspiciously faulty conditions; but despite this knowledge, the owners maintained the factory activities till the day of collapse (Chowdhury, 2017, p. 939). 

The city mayor had granted approvals for construction and facilitated the disregard of the construction codes. Sohel Rana, the building owner illegally added upper floors to house thousands of workers while accommodating large power generators that shook the building whenever they worked (Tan, 2018, p. 85). Before the collapse, the exterior of the building showed large cracks and an inspector had deemed it unsafe, but the factory owners including Rana ordered workers to report to work the following morning. When the generators were switched on, their vibration led to the collapse of the building (Figure 1 below shows the before and after images of Rana Plaza). 

Figure 1: Before and after images of Rana Plaza

(Source: Tan, 2018, p. 86)

The death of the thousands of workers shook the fashion world, and the formation of the Fashion Revolution was intended to be a platform for retailers, business leaders, scholars, and designers to incentivise people to take action throughout the fashion industry; create awareness of different problems (Kabir et al, 2018, p. 226).  Every year since the disaster, the world holds the Fashion Revolution Day on the 24th of April because it is the most important day in fashion. The Fashion Revolution uses social media to perpetuate policy changes; it intends to implement changes across the industry through digital practices (Rutter et al, 2017, p. 12). To curate their content, Fashion Revolution opened social media pages on different platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Problem statement

The fashion industry is fraught with a series of problems. The topmost being that it has overtaken the petroleum industry to become the leading source of pollution; it produces 10% of the world’s carbon emission, pollutes streams and rivers while drying up water sources (Tan, 2018, p. 83). This is exacerbated by 85% of textiles going to waste/landfills every year and washing certain fabrics releases millions of minute plastics into the ocean. This pollution problem exists because of the growing customer demand, and the competitiveness of the fast fashion industry. The rising pollution affects the organisation by making it difficult to showcase evidence that their efforts to highlight the problems in the fashion industry, and implementation of measures to curb the same are working. The fast fashion industry, fashion companies and the customers are all responsible for the rising pollution because of the cycle that stems from the need to satisfy the growing demand from customers, and the need to remain relevant in an aggressively competitive industry. Figure 2 below shows awareness being created on the Fashion Revolution’s Instagram page.

Figure 2: Fashion Revolution Instagram page creating awareness of how the fashion industry is contributing to pollution through sending tones of clothes to landfills

(Source: Fashion Revolution Instagram, 2021)

Another problem is that 80% of the world’s fashion is made by minors; and the only time the world learns about this is when tragedies like Rana Plaza happen (Chowdhury, 2017, p. 940). This problem exists in the fashion industry because of the rising competitiveness, and the rising operational costs that reduce the profit margins; therefore, companies shift their operations to third world countries with flexible and less stringent labour laws, and they exploit these provisions to hire children to work in their factories at low costs and in dangerous working environments, and this allows the companies to sell their clothes at competitive prices and record consistent profits. This is affecting the organisation by highlighting that there is much to be done insofar as implementing laws to safeguard children from exploitation is concerned.  Governments, the fashion industry stakeholders, including customers and companies are responsible to ensure that labour laws are not infringed, and children are not exploited.     

By curating this information on their Instagram Page, Fashion Revolution creates awareness about highlighting the makers of different clothes in efforts to promote transparency (See Figure 3 below).

Figure 3 Fashion Revolution creating through its #IMadeYourClothes

Figure 3: Fashion Revolution creating awareness through its #IMadeYourClothes

(Source: Fashion Revolution Instagram, 2021)

These are some of the problems that the Fashion Revolution tries to magnify through curation on Instagram, and they highlight the harsh reality and complexities of the fashion industry (Khan and Rodrigues, 2015, p. 26). Fashion Revolution undertakes extensive research to reveal that clothes are at risk because they are produced through modern slavery; the addiction to fashion is adversely affecting the environment, and fashion giants are not enthused to place sustainability at their core. Fashion Revolution echoes and magnifies the responsibility of these efforts to fall on the consumers because it is their desires that dictate the actions of fashion companies (Rutter et al, 2017, p. 17).

Solution for the problem

In efforts to reduce the number of clothes in a landfill that is contributing to environmental pollution, Fashion Revolution curates for reusing, recycling, and buying less and buying better. Instead of purchasing many different clothes on the cheap, opt instead for buying fewer expensive clothes and cultivate this as a habit. Combining online and offline activities of creating awareness that simple acts of reusing and recycling clothes are protecting the environment from pollution, from my experience contribute to people embracing new clothing behaviour. Reusing and recycling clothes ensures that there are more clothes out of landfills, and promoting a healthier and safe environment (Tan, 2018, p. 89).

However, recycled, and reused clothes will eventually end up in landfills somewhere in the world, mainly in third world countries where second-hand clothes industry employs thousands of people. Thus, there is a need to consider solutions like sustainable clothing made from materials that can quickly disintegrate upon disposal.  Fashion Revolution has also collaborated with celebrities like Livia Firth and Emma Watson to endorse the 30-day promise (See Figure 4 below), whereby before purchasing something, one should ask themselves if they will wear it at least 30 times.

Regarding the abolition of modern slavery in the fashion industry, the Fashion Revolution advocates for ethical fashion, which promotes transparency, revealing who made the clothes, where the fabrics were sourced, and the environment within which the clothes were made, they ask for fairer wages to their employees, and improved eco-credentials (Fashion Revolution Instagram, 2021).  The #WhoMadeMyClothes is a global phenomenon that demands answers from fashion companies to reveal the people who made their clothes; and as seen from Figure 3 above, different fashion houses are showing the persons responsible for making their clothes. Fashion Revolution also demands more transparency of the factory locations and personnel making clothes from fashion giants who are notorious for hiring workers from third-world countries in efforts to reduce operational costs and increase their profit margins (Fashion Revolution Instagram, 2021).


The different pieces that this case study is focusing one include themes, narratives, and media.  Every Fashion Revolution Week held annually, Fashion Revolution formulate a befitting theme that they promulgate their awareness, such as ‘human labour challenges in the fashion industry, ‘environmental concerns in the fashion industry’ where topics on ethical fashion, sustainability in clothing resources, craftsmanship and throwaway culture are disseminated with intent to create awareness (Kabir et al, 2018, p. 228).  However, despite creating awareness the trends of polluting the environment are not reducing; the fast fashion industry is only growing, customer appetites and demand for more clothes is fuelling the making of more clothes, which only end up in landfills and damaging the environment. There is a need to tie these awareness themes with legal support, as well as policy changes and holding fashion companies accountable for climate change (Rutter et al, 2017, p. 19).

Fashion Revolution predominantly curates on social media, particularly Instagram.  They combine texts and images, and long messages detailing the content of the collection (Khan and Rodrigues, 2015, p. 34).  They use media as a platform to curate their messages in a storytelling format, using Instagram’s live broadcast option, curating promotions and online seminars. Broadcasting through media is efficient in transmitting important messages through long distances. However, the challenge with this option is the need to constantly create informative content, which has to compete with different news content that is generated every other second across the world (Brun et al, 2020, p. 4432). Staying relevant is challenging for Fashion Revolution because their messages tend to create traction once a week every year during the Fashion Revolution anniversary.

In terms of narrative, Fashion Revolution rely on the technical aspect of Instagram; they curate existing objects (such as actual images of landfills, fabric garments in oceans, child labour in fashion factories) to construct their truths. They use curation as agents of change to represent empirical fashion facts in a contextualized way (Khan and Bhatt, 2019, p. 8). They use hashtags (such as #WhoMadeMyClothes,  #WhatsInMyClothes) to create and maintain attention since there is a lot of useless information in social media, but this is only attractive and useful for a relatively short time, because of the rate of trends cropping up (Watkins et al, 2015, p. 3428). Fashion Revolution incorporates images of actual workers who make clothes to humanize and provide social meaning to their narratives.


Fashion Revolution should continue harnessing the power of curating on social media because the incorporation of telling truths from unique perspectives can reveal unprecedented and beneficial insight into the psyche of the audience, as well as becoming an invaluable contribution to curators (Haskins, 2007, p. 409). 

Fashion Revolution should continue harnessing the power of hashtags, their popular #WhoMadeMyClothes, #30wears, and #WhatsInMyClothes regularly generate tens of thousands of posts, which shows that people are curious and interested to learn more about their clothes while creating ideas about novel solutions to modern-day problems.  The use of hashtags reminds people that there is still much to be done, and their role is important to the achievement of the objectives.

Fashion Revolution should spread its messages throughout all social media platforms to ensure that its awareness reaches more people. Instagram is limited by its preferred method of narrating content, which is largely speculative limits information logic. It impedes the guidance of the readers to a deeper level of critical thinking.  Therefore, by adopting a similar aggressive presence on other social media platforms, Fashion Revolution can reach out to larger audiences.  


In sum, social media curation transformed the mono-sided conventional curation whereby the audiences were informed and guided by the personal preference of the curator. Social media accommodated the different needs and perspectives of users; to generate more awareness and create efforts capable of propelling change. Using the Fashion Revolution case study, this paper has detailed the impact and the potential to change social media curation. Notably, it has discussed and validated the different narratives for curations capable of impacting the world from an individual level. By focusing on Instagram, and how Fashion Revolution has created an impetus for triggering change and spreading hope by engaging one consumer at a time, this paper has highlighted the possibility of implementing change at the global level. It has highlighted a few problems and suggested a few ways that can lead to creating solutions at the global level. 


Brun, A., Karaosman, H., & Barresi, T. (2020). Supply chain collaboration for transparency. Sustainability12(11), 4429.

Chowdhury, R. (2017). The Rana Plaza disaster and the complicit behaviour of elite NGOs. The organization24(6), 938-949.

Dekker, A., & Tedone, G. (2019, September). Networked Co-Curation: An Exploration of the Socio-Technical Specificities of Online Curation. In Arts (Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 86). Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.

Haskins, E. (2007). Between archive and participation: Public memory in a digital age. Rhetoric Society Quarterly37(4), 401-422.

Instagram (2021) Fashion Revolution. Accessed from <>

Instagram (2021) Fashion Revolution. Accessed from <>

Kabir, H., Maple, M., & Fatema, S. R. (2018). Vulnerabilities of women workers in the readymade garment sector of Bangladesh: A case study of Rana Plaza. Journal of International Women’s Studies19(6), 224-235.

Khan, S., & Bhatt, I. (2019). Curation. The international encyclopedia of media literacy, 1-9.

Khan, Z. R., & Rodrigues, G. (2015). Human before the garment: Bangladesh tragedy revisited. Ethical manufacturing or lack thereof in the garment manufacturing industry. World5(1), 22-35.

Rutter, C., Armstrong, K., & Cano, M. B. (2017). The epiphanic sustainable fast fashion epoch. In Sustainability in Fashion (pp. 11-30). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Tan, K. (2018). Audience concern of eco-fashion by fashion revolution Indonesia through marketing communication in Jakarta. Communicare: Journal of Communication Studies5(2), 81-94.

Watkins, R. D., Sellen, A., & Lindley, S. E. (2015, April). Digital collections and digital collecting practices. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3423-3432).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *