The important reason people are wearing their clothes inside out today
On April 24th, 2013, nearly 5,000 employees headed to work at Rana Plaza, a large garment factory in Bangladesh that produced apparel for major brands like Primark and Benetton. But fewer than half of those workers returned home that night: More than 1,100 died and more than 2,500 others were injured after the building collapsed into a pile of rubble.
While this tragedy sparked a productive international discussion about the conditions faced by workers in these factories and created some real change in Bangladesh, many concerns still exist about the safety and rights of garment industry workers two years later. In many countries, regulations fail to provide these workers with living wages or even the most basic right of all—safety.
That’s why I’ll be turning my clothes inside-out today, the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, in a call for accountability from the labels I love. Luckily, I won’t be alone (let’s face it, that might look funny), because people in 67 other countries will be joining me as part of Fashion Revolution Day.
According to the event website, the team of designers, business leaders, politicians, and activists behind Fashion Revolution “want to use the power of fashion to inspire a permanent change in the fashion industry and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain.”
This “supply chain” represents what your shirts or pants go through from the first sketch to their arrival at your door. Just how many steps is that? According to a recent style.com article, it’s at least 101, which makes it easier to comprehend that, according to a 2013 study, 61% of clothing companies do not actually know where their own garments are made.
“Buying is only the last step in a long journey involving hundreds of people: the invisible workforce behind the clothes we wear,” explained Fashion Revolution co-founder Carry Somers in a statement announcing the event. “We no longer know the people who made our clothes so therefore it is easy to turn a blind eye and as a result, millions of people are suffering, even dying.”
So, on April 24, events will be held worldwide to call for transparency in garment production, ranging from informational workshops in South Africa to documentary screenings in Thailand to an ethical clothing and accessories pop-up shop in Australia. The U.S. efforts will be lead by “slow fashion” brand Zady, which will unveil the entire supply chain behind some of its latest items.
Can’t make it to an event? Snap a photo of your favorite outfit on inside-out and tag the brands you’re wearing, adding the hashtag #whomademyclothes to your tweet/Instagram/Facebook post. And expect to see plenty posts just like yours blowing up your feed—last year’s hashtag was the number-one trending topic on Twitter with more than 6.6 million Google hits worldwide.
Now, what fashion lover wouldn’t want to take part in such a hot trend?
Colleen Hagerty is a freelance multimedia journalist based in New York City. She started her career at TV news channel NY1, covering breaking news and events including Hurricane Sandy, local elections, and NY Fashion Week. Her freelance work has taken her from the jungles of Borneo to the deserts of Jordan, and she is always dreaming of her next adventure.