When the Rana Plaza collapse happened three years ago, many people, for the first time, got a view of what the fashion industry had become. That 1200+ people could be killed making fast fashion and 2500 more injured, was pretty deplorable. And yet, it’s still happening, it’s just not a news story that’s big enough to reach us on the daily.
When I heard about the International Labor Rights Forum staging a global day of action against H&M who is one of the largest manufacturers in Bangladesh (where Rana Plaza once was) I felt compelled to be part and created a protest with my good friend and author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, Elizabeth Cline.
The ILRF writes: “H&M is still not indicating acceptance of real responsibility, and continues to provide its customers with misleading information and, according to the company’s own data, 61% of the company’s supplier factories still do not have all required fire doors installed – this means that hundreds of thousands of workers in these factories are at risk of injury or death should a major fire occur.”
Our protest was very specific, to cause noise around the fact that they signed a legally binding agreement three years ago that has still not been fulfilled. And all of these people did it on the day of H&M’s annual shareholder’s meeting. So all around the world, people protested and H&M did provide more information because of the pressure. Yet it’s so hard to wrap my brain around the logic of us even having to do this. That a company that makes 50 billion yearly can’t install fire doors in their factories so that people don’t die as they have time and time again.
It goes against every moral fiber in my body to not freak out and to keep challenging H&M on policy, safety, environment, ethics. As consumers, we’ve let large companies like H&M get too irresponsible and now we bear the burden of having to continually make noise so they know we exist, so that they know they can’t just rest on their laurels, and you know, until the next battle we need to wage against them.