Major steps have been taken toward improving factory safety and garment workers’ rights in Bangladesh of late: the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an agreement to provide up to $22 million in financing, and the International Labor Organization (ILO) teamed up with the Swedish government on an initiative worth $5.4 million.
But while the Rana Plaza tragedy of 2013 has become a worst-case scenario for many brands that source from low-cost countries, the organizers of Fashion Revolution Day—which happens once a year in 68 countries on the anniversary of the building’s April 24 collapse—have stressed that much more needs to be done to prevent social and environmental catastrophes in the supply chain from happening in the future.
“When everything in the fashion industry is only focused on making a profit, human rights, the environment and workers’ rights get lost. This has got to stop,” said Carry Somers, who co-founded the organization with Orsola de Castro. “Buying is only the last step in a long journey involving hundreds of people; the invisible workforce behind the clothes we wear. 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.”
That’s why Fashion Revolution is no longer about raising public awareness on one day—it’s become a year-round movement thanks to the organization’s #WhoMadeMyClothes? social media campaign, which encourages consumers to post selfies (using the hashtag) that show the labels of their clothes. The goal: to get manufacturers to respond with photos of their workers.
“We believe knowing who made our clothes is the first step in transforming the fashion industry. Knowing who made our clothes requires transparency and this implies openness, honesty, communication and accountability,” de Castro noted. “It’s about re-connecting broken links and celebrating the relationship between shoppers and the people who make our clothes, shoes, accessories and jewelry—all the things we call fashion.”
But Fashion Revolution knows it needs to become more than a trending topic in order to trigger real change. According to Huffington Post, the team plans to launch a living wage campaign next year and it’s currently working on a transparency index.