DHAKA, Bangladesh — Production at a sportswear factory here where at least 31 apparel workers were killed and 200 seriously injured on Tuesday will resume on Saturday, senior officials of the factory said Wednesday, while the government investigates the cause of the blaze and inspects safety systems.
When the workers came to the 11-story Ha-Meem Group plant Wednesday morning, authorities said it would be closed through Friday. The factory is located in Ashulia, an apparel industry cluster near the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka. In the wake of the blaze, local trade unionists were critical of the plant’s lack of proper maintenance of safety and emergency exits.
Minister for Home Affairs Shahara Khatun said an electrical short circuit may have been the culprit. Fires in Bangladesh garment factories are common due to substandard electrical wiring, killing annually scores of workers who toil 12 to 14 hours a day in poor working conditions for less than $50 a month.
Neither the Ha-Meem authorities nor the Bangladesh government could confirm the total number of deaths.
When the fire broke out in the finishing section of the ninth floor at around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, about 6,000 workers were engaged in production activities, said Ha-Meem’s deputy managing director, Delwar Hossain. Firemen rushed to the site but could not enter the fifth floor of the building due to excessive heat, forcing the authorities to summon army personnel who tried to rescue the trapped workers, mostly females, with their helicopters. Many were seen jumping from the building to escape the fire.
Authorities of a number of garment factories adjacent to the Ha-Meem Group suspended production for the day to speed up rescue activities. The fire service continued working until midnight to douse the flames and rescue the trapped workers from the burning factory.
In 2009, Ha-Meem’s factory was torched by workers over demands for increased wages. Ha-Meem Group is one of the leading export manufacturers, with several factories and about 24,000 employees. It caters to buyers from Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. Ha-Meem’s owner, A.K. Azad, is an influential business figure and president of the Bangladesh Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries. The factory’s customers include Wal-Mart, H&M, Next, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Gap, Wrangler, Squeeze, Sears, Target, Charming Shoppes, Carrefour, Inditex, Miss Etam, Migros and Celio.
The Clean Clothes Campaign, an alliance of garment workers’ safety watchdog organizations in 15 European countries, alleged that Ha-Meem has a “dubious labor-rights track record.” The company is known for “unauthorized subcontracting, meaning the factory may have also been producing for brands which are unaware of their production there,” the group said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast