I’ve spent the past three years studying sustainable fashion. That’s also three years since the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory. In that time, awareness of sustainable fashion has grown. Organizations like Trusted Clothes are springing up, bringing people together to address this important issue. However, while awareness of sustainable fashion and issues in the fashion industry has grown much work is still needed. Another Rana Plaza remains a possibility.
Despite demands for change, and promises from major fashion companies the garment industry has not seen the reforms needed to prevent another Rana Plaza. In the words of Lucy Siegle, “not much” has changed. There has been little evidence of improvement. Poor legislation remains a problem. Meanwhile, companies like H&M hide the lack of real improvement on their part behind sustainability reports. H&M does conduct inspections in factories, however, workers have stated that these inspections often fail to uncover any problems. Factories remain dangerous places where workers are underpaid and overworked. Any attempts by workers to unionize and demand better conditions have been met with violence and threats of job loss.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The fact that demands action continue is a sign that people want real change. Overall, there is growing support for sustainability in the fashion industry. Sustainability has become a topic of conversation among mainstream fashion press Even Lucy Siegle, has expressed optimism that consumers will demand major changes to how fashion operates.
While she considers it a long and difficult journey, it can be done.