On April 24, 2013 the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh killing 1,134 and injuring over 2,500 people. This week, to raise awareness about the global fashion industry, in memory of this terrible tragedy, and to ensure that it never happens again, I am participating in Fashion Revolution. (Look I even got instagram so I could take part!)
The idea behind this event is simple: look at your labels, ask the brands of your clothing #whomademyclothes? We need to be aware of the fact that all of our clothes are made by someone, somewhere, and we play a part in ensuring that those people work in safe and fair conditions. We can demand better care and safe working environments for the people who make the world’s clothes.
Personally I never used to think much about where my clothes came from, or who made them- they just appeared at the store as far as I knew. Who spun the threads? Who dyed the fabric? Did the people who sewed them work in safe and responsible conditions? These were not questions that crossed my mind. I thought that sweatshops and horrific tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911, were a thing of the past.
I first became aware of the reality behind cheap fashion, when I read Elizabeth Cline’s book “The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion”, but it was the Rana Plaza collapse that changed my view of the fashion industry and really made me aware of the secrets that lay behind the tags on our clothes. Suddenly tragedies were not outdated, and the fashion industry had a face behind it. 1,134 people died that day. These were mothers, sisters, brothers and families suddenly gone, because of unsafe working conditions, in order for wealthy consumers to be able to buy cheap clothing. The garment and textile workers are the ones who ultimately pay for the insatiable appetite consumers have for fashion.
And that is why I decided that day, that I would not participate in the cheap fashion trend anymore.
Yes, it can be depressing to hear about the devastation taking place in the name of fashion. Yes, it can be difficult to find fair trade clothing. Yes, it can cost you more money. Yes, it can be frustrating to try and fill your wardrobe while avoiding cheaply made clothing.
But can we really afford not to?
We each have a voice, and by the choices we make each day, we are shaping the world we live in. Each one of us is personally responsible for the choices we make.
So, even if you aren’t taking part in Fashion Revolution, I encourage you take responsibility for the choices you make each day regarding the clothes you wear, be a conscious shopper and help to create a world of safe, ethical and responsible fashion.