There's more to the Rana Plaza Factory tragedy than feeling liberated to buy more expensive clothes. 

Image by Fashion Revolution


Re-thinking the Rana Plaza Reference
Courtney Holm

I wrote this essay to myself. Then I thought I would share it with you, dear reader. I have no doubt that if you are reading this, you are already well on your way to becoming a fashion revolutionary. All the same, here's a little reminder for us all, wherever we are on that journey.

It's that time of year. We are coming up to the 5th year anniversary since the Rana Plaza Factory collapse, and now seems like as good a time as any to bring up something that I feel is very important to contemplate while we all celebrate the good work that Fashion Revolution have ignited so far.

We all know the story, if you don't - read more here. It is brought up in every sustainability/ethics panel I've seen/sat on. It's thrown into ethical fashion conversations, almost as an obligatory point of reference, while people listening nod sombrely for about a second. Yes, the Rana Plaza Factory collapse was a huge tragedy. But are we using this tragedy in our own rhetoric, for selfish reasons? Why do we talk about it? Yes, it's incredibly sad. But do we ever really stop to think about those individuals, mostly young women, who lost their lives while at work, sewing the clothes sold on high street? Do we ever wonder about the families they left behind? Are we yet moved, to petition for better rights for workers in developing countries? Do we question brands when we look at the "made in" labels, putting pressure on them to move closer to living wages?

Or, do we use it as permission to simply buy more expensive "ethical" designer clothes and that's that? If so, we have missed the point. There is so much more to ethical fashion than this! Now, I am sure everyone reading this knows this already. This is just a, uh friendly reminder... for a friend.

I've been thinking about what ethical fashion really means. Here's my best attempt to define it.

True ethical fashion is:

– Inclusive. It should not just be accessable for the upper class. There are more ways than buying costly garments to wear your values. 
– Active. Not just by way of shopping, but by petitioning brands, industry and government with your voice to see transparency, fairness and living wages introduced. 
– Resourceful. With a stronger focus on keeping things longer, caring better for our stuff and repairing it when it breaks down over buying something new. 

This is why I love the Fashion Revolution movement, as it calls on the industry and individuals for fairer, safer, cleaner and more transparent fashion. It is focussed on actions and positivity. It continues to challenge me, as I think deeper about the reason Fashion Revolution was formed, and reflect on what I can do better as a person and what my company can do better as a fashion brand.

So, let's remember the reason for the season. In this case it was 1138 (plus 2,500 more left with injuries - many debilitating for life) human beings, 80% which were women aged 18, 19 and 20, who lost their lives, their future hopes and dreams all on one horrible day five years ago. This is about them, not our capsule wardrobes.

No, we cannot forget that this fully preventable event occurred- nor should we. However, we must not simply throw it around as a shocking statistic that gets used to justify our privilege to choose where to buy. Let's fight for the day when all fashion is ethical, regardless of its price tag.

I hope you will check out the Fashion Revolution movement and see all the many practical ways you can get involved! I hope we can all challenge ourselves to do better. I'm talking to myself here.

See more at Fashion Revolution.

x Courtney

ps. email me at for questions, comments or honest rants