While I don’t keep up with a large amount of fashion blogs like I used to, not a single blog that I read on a regular basis has mentioned what’s going on in Bangladesh. For those of you who aren’t aware, a garment factory collapsed, killing over 1,000 people and injuring countless others. Sweatshops are not a new problem, and they aren’t exclusive to the garment industry. However, the atrocities in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza can not be ignored.
3,000 workers were crammed into a building that was deemed structurally compromised only days before the collapse of Rana Plaza. Instead of heeding the warning, laborers were told to show up for work. According to the New York Times, April 24th is quickly becoming known as the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry.
We live in an era where many bloggers opt to be walking advertisements for big companies vs. whistle blowers, especially in the fashion industry. More concerned with scoring advertising dollars and bagging free clothes, it’s no surprise that so many people have kept tight lipped. You never know who’s listening in, or what PR company will be offended by your opinion and won’t give you a free batch of clothes after publicly criticizing something.
The problem isn’t just one factory with shoddy construction. It’s the entire system. There’s a reason why your Dannijo knock off necklace cost only $6. Someone’s paying for it, and it’s not you. It’s the kid earning $50 a month, working in conditions that most Westerners would find appalling. But we turn a blind eye, so we can blissfully purchase our “affordable” designer knockoff clothes without having to stop and ruin our Pinterest worthy mood. I’m not saying I’m completely innocent either. Personally, I can’t afford to buy everything I wear, from my underwear to my shoes, from small, independent Made In The USA companies. Nor do I have to time to do deep research before every single purchase I make.
So what can we do? While not everyone can afford to shell out big bucks on eco-friendly, fair trade, products, we can make smarter choices when we can afford it. Shop local as much as possible, shop secondhand, shop handmade, and challenge yourself to resist shopping fast fashion, big box stores as much as possible. Be as conscious as possible as to where your clothes come from. Ask questions, and more importantly, demand answers. Don’t support the companies that engage in unfair labor practices. Eventually, they will follow suit.