What are you wearing right now? Where did it come from? Most likely, it was made in China or Vietnam or some other Asian country. Lately, the hotspot for merchandise production is Bangladesh. However, earlier this week, a factory fire in Bangladesh claimed the lives of over 300 individuals. It is another disaster in a series of recent garment industry tragedies. These events have garnered international attention and concern for workers’ conditions and safety standards. Authorities captured Rana Plaza, the man who was illegally running these factories despite inspectors’ insistence for evacuations. However, the larger question at hand remains: Which retail establishments are getting their clothes from such dangerous factories?
Better yet, if your favorite retail store at King of Prussia was sourcing their products from the Bangladesh factory, would you continue shopping there? So far, only Britain’s Primark and Canada’s Joe Fresh have admitted to sourcing merchandise from inside the building. Retailers outsource their merchandise to areas like Bangladesh because, surprise surprise, it’s cheap and certain standards are easily overlooked. Inevitably, activists are arguing for reform within the country’s enormous textile industry.
Aside from the two retailers who have stepped forward, everyone else seems to remain very hush hush about the entire ordeal. Everyone agrees that changes and reform need to take place. The only hesitation within Western shoppers is that they worry reform will drive up prices. As the retail industry shifts from season to season rapidly, and shoppers expect $5 tee shirts and $15 jeans, companies struggle to maintain sufficient profit margins. They continually need to cater to the ever-changing demands of trendy shoppers, but in order to do so, merchandise needs to be speedily created at super-low costs.
Potential reforms leave retail companies with the most to lose. Therefore, it’s hard to envision that many retailers will be open to changing the system that keeps them in business. It begs the question, would you pay more for ethical fashion?