Yesterday marked four years since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh claimed the lives of 1,132 garment industry workers when the factory building they were in collapsed. Brands like Zara, Walmart, Joe Fresh and The Children’s Place were all found to have been producing clothing at Rana Plaza.
Fashion Revolution Week, April 24-30 this year, is a movement to demand clearer supply chains and safer working conditions, and asking fashion brands for a greater commitment to cleaning up the production of clothing, which is one of the biggest industrial polluters in the global economy.
The truth is that there is enough clothing on the planet to keep us all warm and dry well into the future. Not participating in fast fashion by curbing your shopping habit, or hitting vintage and thrift stores is the best way to reduce waste. You can also shop with these ethical fashion companies that provide safe working conditions and living wages for workers.
Another tactic is to shop local.
New York City was once the capital of the garment industry, and it was also one of the centers of the workers rights movement, which was galvanized, in part, by the horrible tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The women, largely Jewish and Italian immigrants, working at Triangle were sewing a fast-fashion forerunner–the fitted, puffy-sleeved tops that were essential to the Gibson Girl look. Different century, same story as Rana Plaza.
Today, the fashion industry is still alive and well in New York City, but most off-the-rack pieces are constructed thousands of miles away in Vietnam, China and India. There are still a handful of garment factories in the city though, and increasingly young, quality-obsessed companies that sell primarily online or in pop-ups are producing New York-made garments that you can feel good about buying and wearing. As a rule they’re more expensive than your average Gap tee, but of course they are. They pay your neighbors a living wage. Here are a few of our favorites. (more…)
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