Workers in the Bangladesh apparel industry are trying to raise awareness in Washington of the nation’s working conditions.
Sumi Abedin, a Bangladeshi garment worker who survived the Tazreen Fashions factory fire in November, and Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, met on Wednesday with George Miller (D., Calif.) and were trying to meet with Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) or members of his team.
At the same time, protests against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Gap Inc. were being planned for today at a Gap unit in the Friendship Heights Metro Station in Washington, D.C. Organizers said Gap was being targeted because it refused in 2012 to participate in a fire safety program for the Bangladeshi garment industry, preferring to go it alone. RELATED STORY: Rising Costs, Riots Squeez Bangladesh >>
Miller issued a statement: “[Sumi Abedin’s] stories provide real insight into the outrageous working conditions that she and her fellow workers had to endure. There have been at least 40 fires in Bangladeshi garment factories since this tragedy. I am increasingly concerned that the response by most U.S. brands that subcontract there has been woefully inadequate. When the cost to fix these fire hazards is estimated to be 10 cents per garment, Gap and Wal-Mart need to be committing resources and entering into enforceable agreements.”
Wal-Mart is being asked to participate in an April 15 conference in Geneva about how brands can compensate victims of fires and victims’ families, organized by global union IndustriAll. Disney, Sears Holding Corp., Delta Apparel Inc., Sean John and Dickies are among the U.S. companies that have also been invited.
Abedin and Akter on Friday will go to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., to “memorialize the workers” whose lives were lost in the Tazreen fire. The women are scheduled to speak Friday afternoon at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.
The Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, which would facilitate in-factory safety procedures, continues to go unsigned by H&M, Wal-Mart and Gap. H&M, which sources more apparel from Bangladesh than any other retailer, said, “Primarily, it is the local government that has the responsibility to monitor the electrical installations in the factories.”
An H&M spokeswoman in Stockholm explained, “To be accepted as an H&M supplier, a factory must have emergency exits, a fire alarm installed on a separate power line and connected to its own generator, emergency lights, fire extinguishers, evacuation plans and minutes of fire evacuation drills.”
H&M introduced an education program to raise fire awareness and contacted other brands that manufacture in Bangladesh, including Abercrombie & Fitch, C&A, Carrefour, Carter’s, Gap, J.C. Penney Co. Inc., PVH Corp., Target Corp., Tchibo, Terranova, Tesco, VF Corp. and Wal-Mart. “Approximately three million workers will receive the education by 2013,” the spokeswoman said. “Collaborating with industry peers can help to increase the influence we have, whereas working alone, we’d have less influence.”
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)