Today marks the first day of Fashion Revolution Week 2020; a week during which we commemorate the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013, Bangladesh. The incident is the deadliest clothing manufacturing disaster in history, killing 1,138 people and injuring approximately 2,500 others.
The building was constructed with substandard manufacturing materials under faulty conditions, disrespecting construction codes. The top floors were illegally built to provide room for thousands of workers and large power generators. Whenever the generators were turned on, they would cause the whole building to shake.
The day before the collapse, large cracks appeared and an engineer was called in to check out the situation. He determined the building to be unsafe. Regardless of the results, factory workers were ordered to go back to work the next day; as soon as the power was turned on, the whole building collapsed. The accident is a prime example of the conflict that exists between profit goals and worker safety. The decision to order the workers back into the factory can be related to the short production deadlines associated to the fast fashion industry. Regardless of the pressure felt by manufacturing plants such as the Rana Plaza factory, there is an ethical obligation to protect the safety standards for the workers.
Companies including Walmart, Adidas and Gap manufactured clothing at the Rana Plaza factory. After the incident, these companies felt the pressure to take action to prevent future disasters. First by donating to relief efforts however, what happened in Bangladesh that day was a wake-up call to the global fashion industry. It led to worldwide discussions on the corporate social responsibility across supply chains that continue up to today.
Fashion Revolution is a non-profit organisation that campaigns for a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry. Through Fashion Revolution Week (#FashionRevolution), they encourage millions of people to come together to campaign for systemic change in the fashion industry. On this first day, they ask us to spread the message that #LovedClothesLast. Take 0ut your favourite item of clothing and share a message, poem or essay (your "love story"). Maybe that jumper you inherited from your father, or the clutch you were given for your birthday by your best friend... Make sure you tag @fash_rev on Instagram when you share your story.