Last Thursday the conversation of where our clothes actually come from began, as part of Fashion Revolution Day.
On April 24 of last year, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,133 workers and injuring more than 2,500 people. This factory was the home to manufacturers for clothing companies like Walmart and Primark.
Fair trade pioneer Carry Somers founded the event in hopes of drawing attention to where our clothes are made and how. He hosetd a series of sustainable fashion events, asking people to wear their clothes inside out to show their labels. Hundreds of people shared those photos on social media with the hashtag #INSIDEOUT.
With over 80 per cent of Bangladesh’s export market is made up of garment manufacturing, over half of that is sold to EU countries. Eighty-five per cent of those working in garment factories are women, who have few options for employment. These are the jobs that nobody else wants and women must often put their lives in danger for jobs that offer very little pay, no maternity support and often face sexual harassment.
Today I went shopping at one of my favourite bargain clothing stores and turned away from the item I had wanted after seeing a “made in Bangladesh” tag. The best option would seem to be turning towards locally made items and away from big clothing stores. But the truth is, if we all bought locally, those in countries like Bangladesh would simply be out of work and an income. Although I still encourage local shopping, the best way to create change is by doing what we can to support better working conditions for those in poorer countries.
Since the incident, the minimum wage for those working in garment factories have had their wages increased by over 70 per cent and standards for such buildings are now more closely watched.
It’s easy to push those issues aside as they don’t affect us directly, but it’s important to be aware of the consequences from the shirt you might be wearing at this very moment.