“A group of students at the University of Exeter designed an ethical trade trump card game in 2012, involving brands that were graded by free2work.org on their policies, transparency, monitoring and workers’ rights. When I joined the Fashion Revolution* advisory board in 2013, I suggested we make a fashion game.
I handed round a pack that was made and played by my students. Many around the table had played trump card games before, they could remember their favorite pack, its best and its worst cards. They recognized the represented brands but were surprised by the scores. You’d be confident in playing a Wonderbra card. Worried with Abercrombie & Fitch. Losing with Quiksilver.
When you download the template, the cards are blank. To make them is to engage in an ethical audit of your clothes. To play the game with others makes these ethics up for discussion. Making and playing the cards, you find that there is light and shade between brands. The data you add to the cards brings narrow victories and losses. If you play Policies with the card you made for your Levi Strauss jeans, and your opponent has made a card for her Adidas shoes, you will tie on an A grade. Play Worker Rights, and her shoes’ C will beat your jeans’ D+.
« You would be confident in playing a Wonderbra card. Worried with Abercrombie & Fitch. Losing with Quiksilver. »
Playing the game also raises questions. What’s transparency? How can you measure labor rights? Free2work’s apparel industry report explains. On its own, this can be a heavy-going read. Data can be hard to remember, however fancy the infographics. Making this information in a game is easier to absorb when you’re slapping the cards on the table and shouting out brands, categories and scores.
Fashion Revolution’s Trump Card game does more than making otherwise heavy information more engaging and entertaining to absorb. Through the process of making the cards, players often find that they have accidentally made more and less ethical purchases. Once they know the scores, however, some players purchase clothes that will give them winning cards for the next game. Not for that single reason, of course, but it has them reflecting on their consumption on several levels.
There’s no blame, shame or guilt here. No saints and sinners. The cards get mixed up as they’re played. Making and playing this game perfectly illustrates Fashion Revolution’s mantra. Be Curious. Find out. Do something.”
Dr Ian Cook, Fashion Revolution Day’s education lead
Visit Fashion Revolution here.
* Fashion Revolution is an NGO and an ethical fashion industry campaign set up to commemorate the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh on 24 April in 2013.