A day before the 2013 collapse, Rana Plaza had been temporarily shut down. Terrified workers had noticed cracks running up and down the walls and structural pillars and had contacted the appropriate authorities for assistance.
It wasn’t long, however, before the 3,000 workers were called back by the employers, many against their will, to resume working on producing vast quantities of clothes to be sold cheaply by numerous fashion retailers in the West, in time for the next deadline. On Wednesday, April 24, 2013, the eight-story factory building collapsed under the heavy weight of garment machinery and equipment, killing over 1,100 people who were trapped inside and injuring many more.
On the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, Fashion Revolution week this year marks the 5th anniversary of one of the worst industrial disasters of all time. During the week of 23-29th of April, millions of fashion lovers around the world pose an important question to producers with the social media hashtag #whomademyclothes, while fashion brands are encouraged to respond with #imadeyourclothes and to offer a transparent peek into their supply chain. This campaign runs all year, however, in a worldwide effort to raise the standards for garment workers in some of the poorest places making clothes for the wealthy western market. The minimum wage in Bangladesh, for example, is 32 cents an hour, one of the lowest in the world and garment workers there can earn up to about £44 a month.
How to get involved in Fashion Revolution Week 2018
There are lots of simple steps you can take to join the call for a safer, fairer fashion industry. Here are just a few:
- Snap an outfit selfie, post it on Instagram or Twitter, tag the brand, and ask #whomademyclothes. Hopefully you’ll get a response from the producer as many others have done. Your voice matters!
Apps such as Ethical Barcode, Buycott and Good on You allow you to scan the barcode of a garment whilst you’re out shopping, and find out just how the company treats people, animals and the environment.
- Arrange for a clothes swap with friends or attend one near you. Alternatively, try thrift or vintage shopping, which can be a really fun way to hunt for some killer pieces without killing the planet.
- Write to your policymakers. This postcard from Fashion Revolution makes it super easy to make your voice heard.
- Gain and spread awareness. The more you learn about the world of fast fashion, the more likely it is you’ll want to change your shopping habits for the better and encourage those around you to do the same.By now you’ve probably seen the groundbreaking True Cost (and if you haven’t, where have you been?). This 2015 film pulls back the curtain on the behind the scenes of your favourite high street fashion retailers and gives an eye-opening glimpse into the unseen world behind the rails. Some other thought-provoking documentaries on the topic of fast fashion include The Machinists and Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion
- Vote With Your Wallet. Political elections and referendums aren’t your only opportunity to vote for the kind of world you want to live in. Every day you have a chance to use your power as a consumer to support a healthier vision of society. In today’s world, businesses do care about what we think. We are no longer destined to be passively force fed whatever goods large companies produce regardless of how they do it. Supporting companies whose values align with yours is a great way to contribute to creating a better fashion industry for all. As a fashion lover, your purse is one your strongest tools to help create a better world.
By Fiona Feeney ©FM