In April 2013, the eight storey Rana Plaza Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,138 people and injuring another 2,500. The building housed 5 garment factories where poorly paid Bangladeshi workers made clothing for wealthy and high profile Western clothing labels. The Rana Plaza collapse has been reported as the deadliest accident in the history of the garment industry and the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history.
On the day of the collapse the Bangladeshi photojournalist Ismail Ferdous was in Dhaka and took these haunting and chilling images of the collapse and its aftermath. Ferdous’s work featured in this short documentary pays tribute to those who died, as well as those who worked to free people from the rubble. Ferdous also photographed clothing labels in the rubble that show the direct connection between high profile fashion labels and the deaths in the collapse.
The least we can do staring at these desperate and suffering eyes is asking ourselves whether the disaster at Rana Plaza is the natural outcropping of a system that we have contributed to create... a system purely based on consumerism and social inequality with no respect for the ecosystem and human beings.
Almost three years have passed by since that utter disaster, still many people 'working' there that day are missing and - most importantly - nothing has really changed. Corporate labels continue to exploit our planet for the sole sake of making money, lobby with mainstream media to make this stories disappear in a blow and sponsor marketing campaigns to avoid mass-reflection and change.
Too many of us are still unaware of these sick dynamics and indoctrinated with this mental idea of purchasing more for less while throwing everything away straight after a night out. We are not the ones to blame, that's true, but we are not purely victims either. In the 21st century and in such a critical moment for human history, not asking questions is our fault. We have the decision power and the intelligence to understand that quality garments crafted by skilled workers in safety and sustainable working conditions cannot be as cheap as those mass-produced with cruelty and slavery... People doing this invaluable job for passion and not survival cannot accept these insane wages and working conditions and independent labels doing things with values might not even think to create human slaughterhouses rather than tailored labs... All of this has a cost, though. Awareness is the first step towards change, but shoppers are the only ones who can really make a change through their choices and ultimately we are all shoppers.
It doesn't take longer to reflect on these lines and realise that buying 20 accessories per week at 2 pounds each is exactly the same as buying one at 40 pounds with the only exception that ideally it will last longer and have no impact on our ecosystem. Yes, we agree with you that this is not always true and there are many labels that try to trick shoppers with pricing strategy and heavy marketing, but again we are sons of the internet generation and is not difficult to seek out transparency before making a purchasing decision. At the end of the day it's all just about changing the way we look at things, being conscious of the impact that our choices have on the ecosystem and put our human values before our consumerist habits. A change is possible and we got to drive it.