This Thursday, April 24th, is the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh that claimed the lives of more than 1100 people, injuring twice that many again. The collapse of the eight storey building in Dhaka generated worldwide news coverage and sparked a conversation about our clothes, where they come from and who makes them. It was a turning point in a part of the fashion industry that many - both consumers, brands and retailers - have preferred to ignore.
This Thursday is also the first Fashion Revolution Day. Born in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy, and founded by industry leaders, academics and campaigners from both inside and outside the fashion industry, Fashion Revolution Day aims to keep a spotlight on those must vulnerable in the supply chain of the garment industry - the people that make the clothes.
As more and more brands shifted their production to the factories of Dhaka to capitalise on the low cost of manufacturing the rapidly growing garment industry in the developing country faced increasing pressure. Pressure from brands to produce more and more to meet the seemingly insatiable desire from the west for cheap fast fashion. And to produce at lower and lower prices. Pressure that was placed onto the owners and managers of the factories, and then in turn onto the workers. Pressure that resulted in the rushed construction of buildings and the lapses in safety, pressure that resulted in poverty wages for workers. Pressure that resulted in April 24, 2013 and the death of more than 1100 people.
The collapse of Rana Plaza was not the first tragedy of it’s kind in Bangladesh. But it has become a moment in time when we asked ourselves if this was the way things should be.
And we answered quite emphatically no.
Fashion Revolution Day is not about shaming consumers. It’s not about shutting down garment factories in the developing nations of Asia and South America. It’s not about not buying fast fashion. It’s about openness, it’s about collaboration, it’s about support for the people that make our clothes. It’s about celebrating an industry that employs millions of people and generates millions of dollars and it’s about making that industry, the one we all love so much, the best that it can be.
But most of all it's about taking a more active interest in who makes our clothes.
So this Thursday the 24th of April, turn your clothes inside out and ask the question - Who Made Your Clothes?
For more information on Fashion Revolution Day check out www.fashionrevolution.org
For an in depth look at the Rana Plaza tragedy and the garment industry check out this piece by The Guardian