The gaze certainly hasn’t left Rana Plaza, as the disaster marked its 10-year anniversary earlier this week, given its importance in establishing binding workplace safety agreements.
As of Thursday, new signatories such as Hugo Boss joined more than 35 brands in endorsing the Pakistan Accord. The Pakistan Accord trails the pathfinding work set forth by the Bangladesh Accord (its renewed form being the “International Accord”). This includes features like independent inspections, remediation, training programs and fire safety.
In a statement, Yves Müller, chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Hugo Boss AG, underscored that the company is committed to “respecting human rights and safe working standards along our entire value chain and apply this throughout our organization.”
In January, brands such as Bestseller, C&A, H&M, Inditex, Otto Group, and PVH Corp. led the charge (all of whom are on the board of the International Accord) in jointly endorsing the Pakistan Accord.
“We are seeing this wave of regulation that started with Rana Plaza and started with the accord,” said Elizabeth Cline, policy director at nonprofit Remake, in a separate Thursday webinar held by Fashion Revolution. “The policy we are seeing today is the legacy of that travesty.”
Be it worker-led movements under nonprofits such as Remake, Fashion Revolution or the Clean Clothes Campaign, Cline said there has been an “evolution and sophistication of transnational organizing,” including the aforementioned accords as well as Stateside legislation like the Garment Worker Protection Act (which passed in California in 2021), Fashion Act and Fabric Act.
Though there is a “global social movement underway,” in Cline’s words, since Rana Plaza to steer fashion in a sustainable direction, there is equally a movement of faster fashion fueling consumption.
“We’ve seen far faster fashion — Boohoo, Shein — making the fast fashion of Rana Plaza look slow,” stressed Grace Forrest, cofounder of the Walk Free anti-slavery organization, who also joined the webinar.
Roland Geyer, author of “The Business of Less” and professor at UC Santa Barbara, explained the consumer pitfalls: “Everyone feels a little bit disappointed about this project [of green consumerism]. Households increasingly feel they can’t make those good decisions, though they are getting more environmentally literate.”
He called for more transparency, with the help of governments, to enable better communication.
“It’s still not enough to walk into a store and look at the information that’s available on labels and elsewhere. There’s just no supply chain transparency or useful information.”