Fashion Revolution Day: You Hold the Power
On this day, in 2014, going to work to make clothes led to the death of 1,134 people and injuries to another 2,500 in what is considered the deadliest garment-factory accident in history. The Rana Plaza complex, in Dhaka, Bangladesh was an eight-story commercial building with a problem; three floors had been added illegally, leading to severe structural issues. On the day prior to the collapse, local TV reports showed dangerous cracks in the building and in response the banks and shops on the main floor were immediately closed. However, due to the pressure to complete orders for buyers on time, garment workers on the higher floors were ordered to return to work the next day. The building collapsed at 8:57 am, leaving only the (empty) ground floor intact.
It’s only clothes. And no one needs to die. That’s what Carrie Somers and Orsola de Castro thought in the days following while brands like Benetton, the Children’s Place, Joe Fresh, Mango, Primark and Walmart stammered to explain why they were producing in such appalling conditions. The two launched Fashion Revolution Day to unite people from all over the world to use the power of fashion to change the story for the people who make the world’s clothes. And it starts with transparency. Consumers and citizens asking brands for transparency in the global working conditions of the makers of the apparel we buy.
And it makes sense – if you knew someone might die making the T-shirt or top you are wearing right now, would you buy it? No, of course not. You trust brands and manufacturers to make sure you did not unknowingly support unsafe or hazardous working conditions. And if you bought it, your consumer dollars have made you complicit in the treatment of the garment workers who made it.
Fashion Revolution Day is a reminder. To us; do we really know who is making our clothes? Were they safe at work? Did they have access to a fire exit? Were they allowed to use the bathroom? Did they make enough money to feed their family? Or take a sick child to the doctor? And it’s a reminder to brands; that we, the consumers, are in control. Without our money, brands are nothing. So asking your favorite brand who made my clothes reminds them that we care and are watching. And that we expect them to ensure everyone in their supply chain is treated like they would treat a customer or a family member. That they keep the makers of our clothing safe and paid.
To get involved is easy, snap a picture of your favorite item or brand label and post to social media with the hashtag #whomademyclothes. You’ll be joining others in over 80 countries exercising their consumer power and using your voice and your power to transform the fashion industry into a force for good. You can make a difference. You hold the power.