Remembering Rana Plaza:
10 Years Later
On April 24th of 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight story garment factory in Bangladesh, collapsed. It housed several clothing factories, killing 1,134 low-paid workers and injuring over 2,500 others - and brought the darkest corners of fashion to the international spotlight.
So what's happened in the fashion industry since the tragedy?
The Fashion Revolution was Born
This tragedy brought the issue of worker exploitation and unsafe working conditions in the fashion industry to the forefront of public consciousness. In response, a group of designers, academics, writers, and business leaders came together to launch Fashion Revolution, with the aim of creating a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry. The movement encourages consumers to ask the question "Who Made My Clothes?" and demands greater transparency and accountability from fashion brands and retailers. Since its founding, Fashion Revolution has grown into a global movement, with events and campaigns taking place in over 90 countries around the world.
The Rise of Long-Overdue Legislation
Some of these include the UK's Modern Slavery Act, which requires companies to disclose what they are doing to tackle slavery in their supply chains. In France, the Duty of Vigilance Law requires companies to identify and prevent human rights and environmental abuses in their operations and supply chains. California's Garment Worker Protection Act gives garment workers various rights, including minimum wage and overtime pay protections. New York's Fashion Act aims to hold all the major players in the fashion industry accountable for their environmental and social impacts. Additionally, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition has developed the Higg Index, a tool that helps companies measure and improve their environmental and social impact.
Unfortunately, it's not enough, and there is a LOT of work ahead.
Real progress is too slow in the context of the climate crisis and rising social injustice. Not nearly enough has changed and human rights abuses and environmental degradation remains rife across the global fashion industry, and although real legislation has been enacted, it remains difficult to fully enforce new laws upon the industry giants.
Garment workers around the world continue to face a range of unfair working conditions, including long working hours, low wages, and poor safety standards. Many of these workers are employed in countries where labor laws are lax, allowing employers to take advantage of them without consequence. Some workers are forced to work in dangerous and unsanitary conditions, putting their health and safety at risk. Others are subjected to discrimination and harassment, including verbal and physical abuse. Despite efforts by labor rights advocates to improve conditions in the industry, many garment workers continue to face significant challenges in their daily lives.
According to the Fashion Transparency Index 2022, major fashion brands have not been doing enough to minimize the impacts of microfibers, which are the largest source of microplastics in the ocean. Only 24% of these brands have publicly committed to this cause. Additionally, the fashion industry still heavily relies on low-wage female labor, and a shocking 94% of major brands do not disclose the prevalence of gender-based violence in their supply chain.
YOU are the Fashion Revolution! Consumers can play an important role in promoting a more fair and just fashion industry by making conscious and responsible purchasing decisions. By choosing to buy from ethical and sustainable fashion brands that prioritize fair wages, safe working conditions, and environmentally friendly production processes, you are actively participating in the social justice. Additionally, you can reduce consumption of fast fashion and opt for timeless and versatile pieces that can be worn for years. By supporting ethical and sustainable fashion practices and reducing overall fashion consumption, consumers can contribute to creating a more fair and just fashion industry that values people, the planet, and ethical business practices.
At MZ Made, we imagine and work for a future where fast fashion and its horrendous consequences are the exception, not the rule. Together, conscious consumers like you and fair trade brands like ours can transform the destructive norm of the fashion industry into a healthy, thriving business model that operates with compassion, justice, and accountability.
Visit FashionRevolution.org for more resources and information on how you can get involved.