Turning my clothes inside out and travelling from one side of London to the other — Fashion Revolution Day has arrived. Selfies on instagram and tweets of our clothing (#Insideout) have taken over all across the world. Bangladesh, China, Swaziland and Brazil are just a few of the countries partaking in the day of activism tabbed under a day for Revolution. Generations of consumers are asking ‘Who made our clothes?’ — re-connecting the thread all of our clothes travel, by re-engaging us with are garments and the labels that sit on their backs.
— ASOS Green Room (@ASOS_GreenRoom) April 24, 2015
I remember two years ago today when news emerged of the deadly collapse of Rana Plaza, a collapse which drew the world’s attention reminding us that there are real people behind our clothing, real people with real families, who all felt their loss.
The grounds upon which the eight story commercial building collapsed were swampy and the cracks on its walls were large. Garment workers were forced to go back to work knowing that this building was unsafe. But this is the world of garment workers, the result of greed, corruption, injustice and rampant consumerism and to those working in the industry, the collapse wasn’t a surprise.
The complex was built using fast tracked contracts by owners affiliated with local politicians, with economic targets far higher on the agenda than safety. From being locked into rooms with no fire exits, overheated from the machinery inside, to being paid peanuts and dismissed with no human rights. Garment workers are at the bottom of a chain on this thread where it’s all too easy to take advantage of them. But of course the World Bank pushes Bangladesh to keep up with the demands of Western consumers and ramp up investment in industry.
The garments industry in Bangladesh accounts for 80% of the countries annual GDP and had facilitated the 6% growth the country has seen annually over the last seventeen years. The garments sector has bought about many a story and with its success’s have come fires, water poisoning and the collapse.
Over a thousand people lost their lives and more than two thousand were left injured as a result of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, the one built on swampy ground, without adequate paperwork and very close to having further stories built.
Even now, garment workers still suffer from the ills of our trillion dollar fashion industry.
Pressure has been placed on governments and buyers to act but consumers must realize the deathly consequences of rampant consumerism and the ills that it can bring about — this is what we should take from Fashion Revolution Day, the day of activism held in its remembrance.
Away from the tweets and selfies, a very serious cause is being explored. Just because it’s fashion does not mean its fickle. There are some who negate the seriousness of this issue and my question to them is, is it because the industry is mainly made up of women?
Weeks after the collapse there were reports of water poisoning; six months on, a factory fire in which there were nine fatalities and at least a further fifty injured. We can see what’s going on; we see it on our backs, in our stores, on the high street and on the TV.
Do we enjoy the exploits of fast fashion too much or is it because we’ve become disengaged with our purchases or just simply enjoy the lifestyle rampant consumerism brings about?
Are we so taken aback by the slogans emblazoned on our t-shirts that we lose consciousness of our consumption?
There are different players at all levels of the chain and we all need to play our part, governments, businesses, factory owners, buyers and consumers.
A $5 T-shirt may not have a great impact on you here but it does have an impact abroad. We may not feel the pinch of a dollar, but however much a garment or any purchase costs you it means something elsewhere too. As a part of a globalised world we impact each other in many ways and we are ever more connected.
As you scroll through your twitter feed and watch activism in the name of fashion taking place, don’t let this calling for change go in vain and those who lost their lives be forgotten. Maybe with a reminder of that connection we’ll value our purchases a little more. You may not care about your garments, but you should care about the workers behind them and care about your footprint.
Be it the plastic that will never disintegrate or the tons of clothing reaching landfills, this is not an issue for a select group of people but for all those who wish to have a conscious mind.
This Revolution is to open up your mind.
Originally posted at Huffington Post UK.
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