It has been two years to the day since a Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people. Workers in that building were responsible for making items of clothing that would, inevitably, be exported to be sold by major brands.
With that tragedy in mind, activists have begun a ‘Slow Fashion’ movement (the title inspired by ‘Slow Food,’ which advocates against fast food), daring brands to ask themselves, “Who made my clothes?”
“It should be a a simple questions to answer. But the fact is, many brands don’t know,” Maxine Bédat said. She co-founded online retailer Zady, and helped to organize this campaign.
Clothing companies typically outsource to overseas factories, which are crowded, contribute significantly to pollution, and don’t pay their workers anything close to a living wage. The companies usually audit the factories who sign contracts with them, but those initial factories then outsource to others, who aren’t investigated.
“They are called shadow factories. They have to do that to produce at the cost and the speed they are being asked to,” Bédat explained to CNN.
This campaign aims to change the system, paying workers a living wage and creating clothing “from sustainably produced fibers” inside safe and sanitary factory settings.
The clothes would become more expensive but, according to Bédat, they’d also be worth it because the material would be high quality and last longer.
More than 70 countries are joining the movement, with name brands like American Apparel and Eileen Fisher supporting the cause.