This week marked the one-year anniversary since the deadly collapse at Rana Plaza that killed more than 1,100 workers. It’s difficult to gauge the progress in improving workers’ safety. Two main coalitions of western fashion brands have formed — the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety — and although there seems to be some disagreement among them, the good news is that efforts for improvement are still very much in the media and the public eye.
I was really happy on Thursday morning to receive an email from the informative and influential site, The Business of Fashion, with the subject line: BoF Supports Fashion Revolution Day – #InsideOut. What followed was an excerpt and link to an op-ed written by Tamsin Blanchard, a British writer who is the style director at the Telegraph and the author of the 2008 book, Green is the New Black. She wrote about a new initiative, Fashion Revolution Day, that’s raising awareness through events (though they seem to be mostly in the UK so far), social media, and a great looking website with essays and photographs showing garment factories around the world.
Other media outlets have done well to keep the tragedy at Rana Plaza top-of-mind by continuing to follow up on the story. Quartz — soon to be my own employer — published an update that touched on the state of Bangladesh’s garment industry, the under-compensated fund for injured workers, and even a visit to the rubble where Rana Plaza once stood. The New York Times photographer Ismail Ferdous, obviously shaken by the experience of photographing the aftermath at Rana Plaza, made “The Deadly Cost of Fashion,” an op-doc with Nathan Fitch that revisits the experience and attempts to frame the tragedy in the scheme of a global economy and society, with a personal voice. (It’s very moving, and very sad.) All of these stories and campaigns offer ways for us western consumers to get involved, whether by signing petitions for brands to pay into workers’ funds, making donations ourselves, or simply wearing our clothes inside-out, to ask publicly: who made this?
I have always been a wearer of vintage clothing, and today it seems like a smart, simple, and beautiful way to participate in the joys of fashion, while stepping away from the convoluted ethics of the fashion system. So, I was happy to get another fashion-related announcement this week. Stefany Mohebban, who I worked with last year for my Wall Street Journal story about personal shoppers, is curating a vintage sale at Dusty Rose Vintage in Williamsburg, Brooklyn this afternoon. Stefany has an incredible eye, so in spite of a heap of freelance work to do today, I may just take a break for a spring refresh myself. Check it out if you’re in the neighborhood. Happy Sunday!