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Today marks the two year anniversary of the collapse of the Savar Building in Bangladesh, otherwise known as the Rana Plaza disaster. The building, which housed a garment factory, among other businesses, collapsed, killing 1,129 people, most of them workers who had been told to come to work despite warnings that the building was not safe after cracks had appeared on its facade.
The Rana Plaza disaster is certainly not the only accident to claim the lives of thousands of workers, but it was definitely one of the most covered in the press. It was a catalyst for a still nascent movement that demands livable conditions and a fair wage for factory workers, most of whom live in third world countries and make the Western world’s clothes, from H&M to Zara to Gap to Walmart. And although some companies, like H&M, have pledged to make sustainability and fair trade a priority, the truth is that not enough is being done to correct the situation.
Fashion Revolution, a global coalition of designers, academics, and business leaders, is aiming to change that. They have chosen April 24, the day of the Rana Plaza disaster, as “Fashion Revolution Day,” and are inviting people around the world to post pictures of themselves wearing their clothes inside out to showcase the label and tag them #whomademyclothes, as a call for transparency in the manufacturing industry. Stella McCartney, a longtime advocate of fair-trade clothing participated in the campaign, posted a picture of her own jacket early this morning.
The truth is, money’s really the only thing that talks in 2015. Until consumers start taking companies to task for their business practices, nothing much will change. But forcing consumers to think about the origin of their clothes, how their t-shirt got from a factory in Cambodia to their Manhattan closet, is a great way to bring awareness to the harsh treatments workers face. Because really, the least we can do is make sure the person making your outfit is well paid and treated humanely. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.