Fashion Revolution – Who Made Your Clothes?

April 24, 2018
A Brief History

On April 24, 2013 the five-story Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1,000 people, mostly young women. There were five garment factories all manufacturing clothing for big global brands. It was considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history. There were cracks discovered in the building the previous day but owners ignored the warnings to avoid using the building and ordered the workers to return to work the next day. They lost their lives for clothing production to meet the demands of corporations. No more.

Fashion Revolution is celebrated on April 24th to commemorate this tragic event and others similar to it by campaigning for systematic reform in the fashion industry and a need for greater transparency and more ethical decision making within the fashion supply chain. It has since expanded to Fashion Revolution week. This year, we are celebrating from April 23rd through the 29th.

How to Get Involved

1. List your favorite brands or places to shop.
2. Ask those brands who made their products by tagging them in a social media photo using the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes
3. While you wait for the responses of your favorite brands, change the way you shop by purchasing your products through socially conscious fashion brands. (Starting tomorrow, I will list some amazing ethical brands!)
My Favorite Brands/Stores:
It was incredibly easy to research most of the supply chain processes for the following brands. I’m pleased with the majority of the results but if I could, I would want to visit the actual manufacturing sites to see for myself. There are always loopholes in laws and though I’m proud of Cali for passing their transparency act, its easy to tell which brands were forced to do this because of that act. They are doing the absolute minimal work that they have to in order to continue conducting business in California.

In 2012, California passed a law (California Transparency in Supply Chains Act) that requires certain retail companies and manufacturers doing business in California to disclose their corporate policies that aim to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chain teams.

In response, Lane Bryant verifies vendor and factory information through an intense legal assessment that could even include follow-up. Their Code of Conduct prohibits the use of child labor, forced or involuntary labor, forced overtime, discrimination, or bonded/prison labor. It also emphasizes the importance of well-treated, fairly compensated workers. They have a program that promotes the maintenance of these standards.

In response to the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act, Anthropologie developed similar systems to Lane Bryant.

Under their Code of Conduct they list no child labor, no forced or compulsory labor, no corporal punishment, no discrimination, compliant with wage and hour requirements, health and safety laws, and environmental laws.

They vet suppliers through an internal screening process including personnel visiting manufacturing sites

Target is actually one of the most ethical companies in it’s specific category. They call it ‘Responsible Sourcing’ and claim that their founder, George Dayton, is known for his strong business ethics.

Broken down into three main categories (product safety, social compliance, and supply-chain sustainability), Target explains their ethical policies when dealing with manufacturers that produce Target brand products. They also partner with vendors that have to abide by their Code of Conduct which you can view in detail on their website.

Target is even a founding member of C-TPAT or Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism which conducts routine audits to ensure that the international supply chain processes continue to meet standards.

Zara is owned by Inditex, a Spanish International Retailer.
Inditex created a Right to Wear approach to supply chain transparency. “Our aim is to create beautiful, ethical, quality products that are not only right for our customers, but right for the people who work for us, right for communities and right for the environment. Our aim is to create fashion that is Right to Wear. That means thinking and acting sustainably and transparently, with the traceability of every aspect of our activity.”
Inditex has a Committee of Ethics that ensures that any suppliers or other third party partners abide by their ethical standards within their code of conduct and responsible practices.

 I wasn’t able to find any information on EB, however I interviewed for a buying position back in 2014 and proceeded to the final stage of the interview process which included a project. Because of that project, I was not offered the position. My project consisted of ways to transform jewelry buying within EB to practicing ethical standards with suppliers. The job would have had me traveling to India and other countries to source products. In my project, I described a new plan for sourcing products through partnering with ethical manufacturers. They told me that EB wasn’t ready for that. The very next year, they introduced a few of those manufacturers I had mentioned in their jewelry department. I can’t speak for their other products but I do know they kept up with some ethical jewelry manufacturers at least until 2016.

“Clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will.” – Anne Klein
For more information:

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