Fashion Revolution: Ending Slavery in the Fashion Industry

On April 24, 2013, the news spread throughout the world about the collapse of the Rana Plaza  in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  It was a garment factory in which many big named fashion companies received their supplies and clothing from.  3,137 workers died in the eight story building that day, leaving still over 200 missing, and 2,500 injured.  80% of those who worked there were 18-20 year old women working sometimes 14 hours a day.  When news spread that there were even younger girls who died, the fashion industry was in bigger trouble.  “Young ‘helpers’ earned 12 cents an hour, while ‘junior operators’ took home 22 cents an hour, $10.56 a week, and senior sewers received 24 cents an hour and $12.48 a week.” [1]  The reason for its collapse was due to poor building conditions, as there were illegally added floors put in that were not stable.

over 3,ooo workers had originally refused to even enter the building because they saw the damage looking worse than ever.  The owner stepped in with threats.  “Sohel Rana, brought paid gang members to beat the women and men workers, hitting them with sticks to force them to go into the factory. Managers of the five factories housed in Rana Plaza also told the frightened workers, telling them that if they did not return to work, there would be no money to pay them for the month of April, which meant that there would be no food for them and their children.  They were forced to go in to work at 8:00 a.m.” [1]  Less than an hour later the eight-story factory complex started to fall.

Six months prior to the Rana Plaza collapse there was another garment factory that had burned down in the same city but at the Tazreen building. This left 123 dead and more than 150 injured. [2]

Two months before the Tazreen fire there were “fires in textiles and garments factories across south Asia have killed hundreds…. More than 280 died in one at a site in Karachi, Pakistan.” [3]

Throughout this week, Fashion Revolution inspired the world to use social media to make a difference.  People were posting photos of themselves wearing clothing inside out and backwards to show the tags of their clothing.  They then tagged the clothing’s companies and asked #whomademyclothes in hopes that people won’t have to suffer in slavery or incidents like the tragic Rana Plaza, Tazreen factory, or the garment factory in Pakistan again.  As an example, here is both the question and the response from the company itself (Levi Strauss) to the one who asked.

One of the companies that had their clothes made in the Rana Plaza was H&M, who has since put out a conscious line and are making efforts to get to know their workers, give them fair wages, and treat them fairly.  We need to see more and more companies fix their mistakes like this.

There are other companies who have always been clear about who makes their products.  We especially appreciate companies such as Sseko Designs who wrote a beautiful blog post to explain their work ethic, why they make the shoes that they do, and who benefits from the profits.

You can continue to make a difference through the purchases you make and the clothing that you wear.  To see how you can be involved for the event next year, go here.  Want to start making ethical and fair trade purchases now? Check out our list of companies that are making a difference for those who work for them!

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