One year ago today, the Rana Plaza garment-factory building in Bangladesh collapsed into a pile of twisted metal and concrete, killing 1,100, and injuring around 2,500. By far the worst apparel accident in the world’s history, the gruesome collapse was shocking but not surprising to those familiar with how the fashion industry — especially for mass labels — works. When cracks appeared in the structure, the predominantly female garment workers were told to show up or risk losing their jobs, and with it, the meager wages they received for working grueling hours churning out fast-fashion apparel for consumers.
It was a horrifying wake-up call for many consumers, who until that point had no idea what conditions their clothing was being manufactured under. And, it provoked an outcry for reform.