// 5 years ago a factory in Bangladesh that made clothes for Mango and Primark collapsed.
While this was definitely not the only accident to ever happen in the textile industry, it attracted international media attention because of the great extent of human suffering it caused. More than a thousand people were killed. More than two thousand people were injured, some of them badly. Many were disabled for life.
For the most part - and especially in emerging markets - workers in the textile industry are vulnerable, exploited and forced to work in conditions that most of us cannot even imagine. Workplaces are often unsafe, hours are long and the wage is all too often far from "fair" to keep production costs and ultimately prices as low as possible. Many of these workers are women, who work so much that they have to send their children away to be raised by relatives, and are paid so little, they cannot afford trips to visit them. It doesn’t have to be that way. We, as consumers, have the power to make the industry change. But to do that we have to start valuing humans and the environment more than low prices.
I’m not a saint or perfect by any means and I *do* buy fast fashion (I don’t buy leather though). Sometimes I find myself dissatisfied with fair fashion options, notably stylish ones and I'm still in the process of unlearning to look at style first and price tag second, and instead learning to research labels, asking ‘is that organic cotton?’, ‘where was this made?’, 'is that label certified?' etc.
However, luckily, there's an increasing number of fashion labels out there that care about sustainability and human wellbeing as much as they do about profits. Better even, many of them also manage to make clothing that is fair, sustainable, reasonably affordable and fashionable. Some of the big players in the industry (H&M for example) are also starting to incorporate more sustainable practices in their supply chains. Still, they have a very long way to go and only time will tell if they are going to stick to their commitments.
So what can we do apart from hoping for the enlightenment of large corporations? Well, it's currently fashion revolution week. This week was initiated by an NGO called Fashion Revolution to remember the 2013 Rana Plaza incident (the factory that collapsed in Bangladesh) and to improve the industry's standards to prevent similar disasters in the future. They advocate for transparency and fairness in the fashion supply chain and make it easy for consumers to get involved. Here's a few things you should absolutely do this fashion week:
- Check out fashionrevolution.org, subscribe to their newsletter or follow @fash_rev on instagram to stay informed
- Sign their manifesto
- Take to social media to ask fashion labels #whomademyclothes
- Watch the documentary True Cost on Netflix
- Think about changing your fashion buying and wearing habits. Research fair fashion labels and second-hand shops in your area and even if you buy fast fashion make sure you only buy things you LOVE so you will wear them at the very minimum 30 times. (Actually working on a list of my favourite fair fashion labels, stay tuned).
Spread awareness, spread the love.
Let's clean up this mess.