On the 24th April 2013, a tragic event occurred in Bangladesh, India. The collapse of the Rana Plaza building that held factories, shops, apartments and banks. The factories produced clothing for many popular high street brands, such as
H&M, Walmart, Primark, Mango and Matalan (to name a few). This devastating event killed 1,134 people and ruined the lives of many more. It was later exposed that the catastrophe could have been prevented. As garment workers had already raised concerns about the cracks in the infrastructure prior. Instead of management listening and making improvements, they refused to pay them unless they went back to work. It was later leaked that the workers were taken to a private room and were beaten.
The very next day the building inevitably colasped and thus the fashion revolution began. Many of the people that were trapped under the rubble were children. A lot of them were trapped for days and had to endure amputations once rescued. All whom survived currently suffer with PTSD.
The Rana Plaza collapse changed the way I viewed fashion– and as a dedicated student of fashion I felt, and do feel a great deal of responsibility. I’m much more conscious and I avidly promote slow style over fast fashion.
Culture Not ConsumptionVivienne Westwood
The fashion revolution dedicates itself to raising awareness of the impacts of the industry, whilst building campaigns to posistively evolve the industry. They aim for a fully transparent and fair industry that follows the Sustainable Development Goals–in turn improving the life of the planet and people.
Fashion Revolution campaigns that we can all get involved in this upcoming Fashion Revolution Week (19th – 25th April):
Ask WHO MADE MY CLOTHES? you can download leaflets to fill out and send to your favourite brands, to ask who made your clothes. Fashion Rev makes it easy with a downloadable template.
Show you care with window posts. Many people come to our doors. Whether it’s the postman, the food delivery driver or local menu and charity bag guys. They will all most likely see your poster and this would help spread awareness and curiosity for the revolution.
Educate yourself When I was the VP of the fashion society at university in 2014, we invested £350 to privately watch The True Cost and although the turn out wasn’t great (400 seats and only 20 people turned up) the impact was everlasting to the ones who did show up. Including myself. Since viewing this documentary I have changed the way I consume clothes dramatically and haven’t shopped at Primark or H&M since. This doesn’t mean I don’t have any of these brands in my wardrobe (I do) and I cherish each and every item. I highly recommend watching this to anyone who wears clothes. As it involves you. You can stream it on Netflix and Prime for free.
Where are we 8 years later?
I am a former child garment worker, turned labour activist after seeing the grave injustices all around me. I spent painstaking hours collecting brand labels from the rubble because I knew irrefutable evidence was required to hold brands accountable.Kalpona Akter
Many of the people who were effected by the collapse are still out of work, with most of the, unable to work again. And I’m not sure about this but I don’t think that there is any sick pay or child tax credits/ housing benefits in India.
All who sustained severe injury and exposure suffer with PTSD and are unable to receive the appropriate care they deserve. Again I doubt there is any NHS in India that will provide therapy. Most of the people were women and children so that means there will be a lot of grieving parents and children in Bangledesh. This keeps poverty and deprivation high across the country.
Shortly after, locals gathered in protest and thousands of protesters were crushed and killed. Bringing further heartache to India.
Approximately 250 companies signed two initiatives, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, both of which were designed to improve safety dramatically in 2,300 factories supplying western brands. – The Independent
Many factory wokers have died in fires in factories all across india due to bad chemical storage and fire exits manually blocked off. Tis kind of neglect cannot go on. It is inhumane and most of us in the western hempesere invest in these terrible brands that thrive off a huge profit margin due to poor conditions and a pathetic excuse for a living wage.
Fast fact: Did you know if you pay an extra penny for your H&M clothes, you can feed a family of 4 in India for a whole week! Why are stuff £29.99 anyway?! It only leaves the consumer with a pocket full of pennies, they’ll never spend.
What Can You Do?
Stop shopping at these brands and when they see a decrease in profits they’ll wonder why. As customers we can have a huge impact. We need to see a positive change or we will never shop with you again. This is the message they need to hear. They prey on us as consumers, knowing that we want the next cheap IT item, but it’s no good. It’s killing us and the planet in the process. The whole industry needs to slow the fuck down (not sorry for swearing) the brands will only change if the consumer does.
We all can make a difference. I am a strong believer in realism over escapism, and we’ve been escaping long enough it’s time to wake up and take action. All factories should be audited biannually. We should start an who audited my factory campaign because the health and safety of factories across the globe is horrific, and many people and companies should be held accountable. From fire exits being blocked and people burning to death, because of terrible chemical storage and lack of ventilation to factory collapsing due to poor infastructure. This way of life cannot go on.
We don’t need that much clothing we really don’t. We all need good quality pieces that benefit our lives and lives of others. I want the garment workers to be paid right and not make as much items. It it is a waste of time and terribly tedious. What happened to 4 collections a year? Now its 10 collections a year and this includes designer brands too. It’s too much and us as consumers are inevitably over run with too much priciest in our homes. Products we only wear once cause it’s already been on our Insta feeds. Please as the shops reopen. Consume more conciously!
Influencers do your research. These companies would rather pay influencers to promote their clothes than pay the people who actually made them. What a fucked up world we live in. But we can change it. I truly believe we can and all big changes in history start with a revolution. Many brands have contacted me because I have a small authentic following and set in my bio I am a sustainable style blogger. When I ask the brands where and who made the clothing they simply get offended and dismiss me, sometimes block me. Imagine if macro influencers asked the same questions. Would that make a difference to the industry alone? I am certain it would.
Every important change in history starts with a revolution and never have we ever been so desperate for one.
Despite promises of change, the garment industry has returned to business as usual, and global action is needed today just as much as it was in the days following the Rana Plaza disaster.Thomson Reuters Foundation News
Get involved here!
References (please take 5 to read instead of hours of doom scrolling)
Fast Fact: H&M pledged to much fanfare that within five years all garment workers in its supply change would be paid a living wage. Today, as confirmed by research by Clean Clothes Campaign and statements by H&M to Thomson Reuters Foundation in December 2018, no worker in Bangladesh receives a living wage. – Thomson Reuters Foundation News
I hope this article opened your eyes and you weren’t too offended with my passionate swearing. It’s in my culture to do so. Tony Robbins gets it.
Thank you for reading and please join the revolution!