Bangladesh Factory Collapse: We Need to Demand Ethical Labor in the Fashion Industry

Last week marked two significant milestones for my start-up Modavanti: Our three month anniversary and our first national press recognition on NBC’s The Today Show. And yet we celebrated these special achievements with heavy hearts as news reached us that over 300 Bangladeshi garment workers were crushed to death when their factory collapsed. A further 900 people remain unaccounted for. The building crumbled despite workers repeatedly warning their superiors that the factory was structurally unsound and contained sizable cracks.

Such tragedy was the result of willful negligence on behalf of both the factory owners and fast fashion retailers who applied unrealistic demands on the factory. The owners deliberately ignored the most basic of safety standards and instead placed production deadlines ahead of the lives of their employees.

This shocking disregard for human life only underscores the importance of our mission at Modavanti. We are committed to working with brands and designers who provide fair wages, a safe working environment and the dignity of an honest opportunity for a better future. We believe that fair labor employment is not a privilege to be earned — it is a fundamental right. 

Sadly, that isn’t the case for thousands of artisans and garment workers. The town of Savar, Bangladesh, where the factory collapsed, is still recovering from a devastating fire at a separate garment factory only six months ago. Last November, at least 111 workers were burned alive after their bosses locked the exits to prevent them taking breaks outside. These two factories supplied many of the same retailers.

On a week that Modavanti was recognized on The Today Show for stylish Fair Trade fashion, this tragedy is yet another horrific reminder of the immense challenge ahead of us. How can we, a country built on promoting human rights, ignore our principles by subjecting others to such despicable conditions?

Are we comfortable knowing 300+ people were crushed so that we could buy some cheap top, dress or shirt, wear it for three months and then throw it away?

Can’t we do better?

It's time that we as consumers start to vote with our wallets and demand our clothing be made ethically. We have a responsibility to check the label on the garments so that we know that our clothing is worth wearing and that our choices lead to opportunity, not servitude.

It is up to all of us to promote and celebrate the incredible clothing that responsible brands are creating. For one, Modavanti is proud to work these designers as they produce beautiful and sustainable Fair Trade fashion because we know we are not only serving our customers but we are empowering workers as well.

For months, we at Modavanti have been promoting the tag line #JoinTheFuture when it comes to shopping sustainably. A tag line #WinTheFuture seems more appropriate and urgent. Now more than ever we need to ‘win the future’ for ourselves, our planets and the thousands of garment workers both here in the US and around the world who deserve better.

Our mission is as clear as ever. Join us to make a lasting difference. Join us so we can all "Win The Future."