On April 24th, 2013, Rana Plaza, a garment factory in Bangladesh, suddenly collapsed, taking the lives of more than 1,100 workers. There have been numerous other collapses, fires and deaths in garment factories, however, the magnitude of this tragedy finally brought attention to the explotation and lack safety standards in garment factories. The story was well noted, gaining coverage from television networks, newspapers, magazines, and blogs around the world. Global fashion companies and department stores such as the American tycoon Walmart, the Canadian brand Joe Fresh, the UK’s Primark, and Spain’s popular clothing manufacturer, Mango, were among the many brands sourcing from Rana Plaza before the collapse and – after the tragedy – many of the companies responsible for the integrity of the factories and the well-being of the workers pledged to rectify the situation in whichever ways they could. Whether or not all parties carried out these pledges is an ongoing issue, though progress is being made through the The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.
Despite the fact that this catastrophe may now be considered “old news” in relativity to current events, it is crucial that the collapse should not pass without being effectively marked. Noted as the worst factory collapse in history, the Rana garments factory cave-in took the lives of 1, 129 workers; nearly one and a half times the population of Vatican City and larger than most rural villages in Bangladesh. Now, nearly one year after the Rana Plaza collapse outside Dhaka, the Human Rights Watch continues it's advocacy for the victims, for accountability from international brands and better policies for safety and fair labour practices from the Bangladeshi government. We must commemorate this event in history to ensure such a tragedy will never again occur.
Raising for Rana
Raising for Rana is a not-for-profit movement that aims to raise funds and attention surrounding last year’s events. Raising for Rana will be hosting an event to mark the one-year anniversary of the Bangladeshi devastation in conjunction with the War on Want group, TRAID program, and a documentarian film crew. This gathering at Regents University’s Conferences and Events Centre in London on April 24th, 2014 will – among other affairs – play host to the much-anticipated debut of the Rana Collapse film documentary: a film which will then be made available online for the world at large on April 25th. In addition to this not-for profit film exposé, attendees can expect feature presentations from the UK sustainable and recycled fashion boutique Hatastic, London’s couture confectionery Lola’s Cupcakes, and a vast collection of wine from the charitable Barefoot Wine company. Complete with a charity auction of ethical, fair trade, and sustainable fashions, Raising for Rana is bound to generate plenty of press and initiate the kind of public acknowledgement that will lead to safer manufacturing practices.
Fashion Revolution Day
Also in the business of promoting safety and awareness is Fashion Revolution, a movement sweeping the planet. April 24th, 2014 marks Fashion Revolution Day; an event for the common citizen to acknowledge the labour and loss suffered by garment factory workers worldwide. Taking a different approach to the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, Fashion Revolution day encourages its participants to wear their clothing inside out and to, for once, showcase the manufacturers instead of the article of clothing itself. In bringing focus to the clothing label, the organizers of Fashion Revolution Day wish the world to see fashion as a positive influence but also to recognize those who have lived and lost their lives in order to make the articles of clothing that we wear every day and often take for granted. Fashion Revolution Day is an everyman’s event, taking place all over the world, free of charge, and at your own will. Begging the question, “Who made your clothes?”, Fashion Revolution Day is certainly going to change the perspective of many regarding the clothing they buy and wear.
April 24th has, until last year, been just another day on the calendar. With the occurrence of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, sustainable fashion gurus and activists are hoping to make April 24th a day to remember. Whether you spend it at the Raising for Rana event in London, wearing your clothing inside out in support of Fashion Revolution Day, or simply discussing garment factory conditions with those less aware, let us all band together to ensure that the lives lost in the Rana tragedy were not lost in vain. Help change the conditions of manufacturing factories across the globe for the clothing that you wear has not been machine-made but delicately assembled by another human being: a human being who may or may not still be in a position to earn a living.
By Dana Simpson
Dana is a freelance writer, musician and has recently completed a degree in English and Music from the University of Ottawa. Not surprisingly, writing and music are her greatest passions in life, alongside travel, human rights and creating social change through art. Follow Dana on Twitter (@danasimpson) and Instagram (@danalaurensimpson).