If you've been following the news, one of the largest and most devastating apparel factory accidents happened just last month in Bangladesh, spurring international action to overhaul local labor laws. We were worried that outrage would peter out, but it seems that more and more major retailers including Benetton, Mango, Joe Fresh, G-Star, Calvin Klein, H&M, Primark, Gap Inc., and Wal-Mart are signing on to various (and sometimes competing) safety accords. According to WWD, many other U.S. companies have not yet signed any binding agreements, and are working to craft their own.
But if there was any wake-up call that real change needs to happen more swiftly, it just came in the form of yet another factory collapse, this time in Cambodia. A shoe factory that contracted work from Japanese sporting goods company Asics crumbled from the weight of heavy machinery this morning, killing at least three people and injuring 11. The factory was owned and operated by the Taiwanese-owned Wing Stars Shoe Co. Ltd., one of the largest shoe manufacturers in Cambodia, employing over 7,000 workers in the area, many of whom protested poor working conditions and wages this March. According to the NYT, Asics offered condolences to the affected families and said they "would consider actions to revamp safety measures at its overseas suppliers." Wing Star Shoes has not responded.
We'll be following up this story with a more comprehensive look at the real cost of manufacturing, ways to contribute to and participate in a more ethical fashion industry, as well as updating you on the retailers and brands who've signed onto safety accords. (WWD)
Photo: Courtesy of USA Today