Fashion Revolution Day 2015: Who made my clothes?

who made my clothes? Sainsburys Tu range

Who made my clothes?

Tomorrow is Fashion Revolution Day, marking two years since more than 1000 garment workers were killed in Bangladesh when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. The factory workers were making – or had recently made – clothing for 29 western retail outlets. There is a rather harrowing documentary made by the BBC here that talks in more detail about the Rana Plaza factory, its collapse and the terrible stories of some of its survivors.

To date the fund that was set up to raise money to support the victims and families has received $21 million  in compensation payments from brands including bonmarche, C&A, Primark and Walmart. The fund still needs $9 million but some brands have refused to contribute or, like Benetton, paid a small amount. There is an online petition asking the Italian clothing company to pay more than the $1.1 million it announced it would donate last week (17th April).

Organisations such as Labour Behind the Label and Clean Clothes Campaign are campaigning for better working conditions, pay and opportunities for clothing workers around the world.

They suggest many ways to let your voice be heard to campaign for better compensation for Rana Plaza victims and to ensure this tragedy doesn’t happen again.

On Fashion Revolution Day:

– Fashion Revolution suggests contacting a clothing store and asking #whomademyclothes?

– Labour Behind the Label suggests organising a protest outside Asda (Walmart) or Benetton OR holding one minute’s silence at 11.34am OR posting a solidarity message on Facebook or Twitter and using #RanaPlaza

I briefly had a look at the Sainsbury’s website as I have a couple of recently purchased items of clothing from its Tu range.

On their website they say they are: “active members of the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety since its inception on 15 May 2013″ (set up after Rana Plaza).

Sainsbury’s also answer a question about how to ensure their clothing workers are treated properly  with some wording about its “Sourcing with Integrity” core value. I noticed that its labels state its clothing is made in Turkey and a recent report from the Clean Clothes Campaign indicates workers there are being paid below the poverty line. The factsheet below shows the huge shortfall between pay and what it costs to live in the country and the organisation is campaigning for better wages.

clothing industry in Turkey factsheet from Clean Clothes Campaign 2015

The bottom line of the report is that just because clothing is being made in Europe it doesn’t mean fairer wages are being paid. It is good to ask the questions of the big retailers about how and where our clothing is made. But there is also a reason why clothing is being made at cheap prices: it’s because we want to pay low prices.

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