Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tragedy and Change: Bangladesh

As a history teacher, I know very well that it unfortunately takes a tragedy to cause change. The building collapse in Bangladesh immediately brought to mind the 1911 Triangle Waist Company factory fire in New York. It was a time in the U.S. when businesses were not regulated heavily, so buildings did not always feature the highest safety provisions possible. Cornell University has a great web exhibit, including this map of the 9th floor that will make your skin tingle and blood boil. The fire spurred protests for more rights and safer conditions for workers. We have increased building safety because of this and other tragedies in our past.

What will the events in Bangladesh bring? Hopefully, more people will start holding companies accountable for ensuring that safety regulations are being implemented in their factories. From what I have read in the article, It's Not Easy to Identify ‘Ethical Clothing’, to do so is "costly and time-consuming". For me, this tragedy is a push to branch out and find companies that are especially mindful of the rights and safety of others. But this may be a difficult task, as the aforementioned article states:

"Few companies sell clothing that’s “ethically made,” or marketed as being made in factories that maintain safe working conditions. In fact, such clothes make up a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the overall $3 trillion global fashion industry."

Please share any resources or thoughts on the topics of Bangladesh or ethics in the comments.


  1. woah, only a tiny fraction of 1% are ethically made! :( Gosh, really makes me think twice on what I buy now...

  2. This was such a tragedy and I hope it makes the entire industry stand up and take notice. Even though I make a fair amount of my own clothing and can semi-control that part, I'm not really sure where my fabric comes from. I'd guess though that it is imported? I don't think there are very many American-sourced items nowadays.

  3. If you want to read a great book that covers the garment industry and the reasons why ethical fashion is so hard to come by, I recommend "Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Fast Fashion."
    I read the book several months ago, and last week on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross they rebroadcast an interview with the author - a quick listen will give you an indication of how bad the problems are. It opened my eyes a lot and has pushed me towards sewing as many of my own clothes as possible, seeking out independent designers, etc.

    1. Thanks for the book suggestion. :) I may have heard part of that on NPR. I remember hearing a segment about H&M and fast fashion a month or so back.

    2. I've been wanting to read that book too, I've heard it compared to "Fast Food Nation" regarding how it changes mindsets.

      I'm a new sewer but have been buying from thrift stores almost exclusively for the past 5 years. It started due to finances but now, we find that the types of items we can get for a few dollars surpasses anything we can get in stores.

      I find that it's nice to wear clothes that no one has (since I buy classic pieces). I guess even if they were made overseas, it's not ADDING to the problem since I'm buying used.

      Thank you for addressing this. So few bloggers seem to care at all; they are just bragging about their "hauls", talking about what they are "coveting" and copying each other.

    3. That is a good way to say are not "adding" to the problem. :) I have been admiring those that can sew lately. Seeing others alter thrift finds (Jean) or making something from scratch (Sew Petite Gal and Ping) has been inspiring.

  4. Good to see this post! It's a shame how rarely most fashion bloggers write about ethical shopping.

    I've published a post about the topic two weeks ago:


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