Today marks Fashion Revolution Day and the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
On a Wednesday morning on 24 April 2013 a building collapsed. A building that was built on a reclaimed swamp. A building that had no legal permits. A building that was designed to be six storeys tall, but was eight – with a ninth under construction. A building that was ordered to be shut down the previous day due to concerns about its safety. A total of 1,134 workers lost their lives, 2,500 were seriously injured and 800 children were orphaned. The building was the cause of the deadliest garment factory accident in history.
In an industry wearing such scars, we would hope to see our global supply chains in a state of utopia: retailers having a clear grasp on their value chains, with confidence in the conditions in which their products are produced, and in the hands through which they have passed from production to purchase. But is this the case?
Many high street brands are facing up to the shocking realities of a high demand supply chain, acknowledging they can no longer be afraid of the truth and are seeking greater transparency, and are working collaboratively with suppliers to relieve the pressure put on them to deliver high volumes – ultimately working conditions and labour rights will improve.
In the wider reality, little has changed. Brands are still making huge profits and the real cost of fashion is still being passed onto those that make our clothes, some earning less than £1.50 per day, many in conditions that are putting their safety, health, and even their lives at risk.
Perhaps most shockingly, it is two years on and justice has still not been done for those who were injured and killed, with a number of globally recognised brands, all with links to the Rana Plaza factories, having so far refused to provide adequate payments into the Rana Plaza Donors Fund, which aims to deliver full and fair compensation to the 5,000 individuals with eligible claims.
Fashion Revolution Day is an annual event to mark the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy. It was, and will continue to be, a day to commemorate but also to celebrate. Fashion Revolution is a collaboration which is set to turn fashion into a force for good. Fashion Revolution Day brings together consumers, designers, large brands, and the media to start the beginning of an industry-wide transformation. As a collaborative force to be reckoned with, we can pave the way to a transparent, socially ethical, and environmentally sustainable future of the fashion industry.
We, the consumers, have a huge part to play. We have the ability to make a noise, a big one. This is why it’s essential that we’re all aware of the real story behind our products. So the next time you’re shopping, remember, be curious about the products you’re putting in your basket, ask questions, so you can proudly state: "I know who made my clothes!"
☛ Rebecca Taylor is business development manager at REDDYco