The clock is ticking on the Bangladesh Accord on Fire Building Safety.
The Accord came to be a landmark stance on garment worker safety, signed in 2013 following the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 garment workers.
As of Thursday, more fashion brands — the latest being Japanese retailer Uniqlo — are bolstering grassroots efforts to strengthen and reintroduce the Accord as it is set to expire on Aug. 31, 2021. The Accord was originally approaching its expiration in May, but public pressure from activists, brands and organizations warranted a last-minute three-month extension to continue negotiations on the legally binding enforcement, which has provided millions of garment workers with safer working conditions.
The status of the Accord has broader implications on the state of sourcing today. Destinations like China, India, Malaysia and Pakistan — all countries lacking legally binding and enforceable regulation on garment factory safety — remain popular sourcing destinations for fast fashion.
As with its PayUp Fashion tracker that launched amid the pandemic to incite reparations on canceled or delayed clothing orders, Remake’s Accord brand tracker integrates on-the-ground data from the Clean Clothes Campaign. The nonprofit’s latest campaign sheds light on brands — including the likes of Adidas, PVH Corp. (Tommy Hilfiger), Bestseller, Mango, Marks & Spencer, Primark, Zara and H&M — which have not yet formally signed onto a successor agreement to the Accord.
A dozen brands have committed to renew or expand the Accord thus far, including Asos, G-Star, Esprit, Uniqlo and S.Oliver, as indicated in human rights nonprofit Remake’s live tracker.
Specifically, the brands support an Accord extension that is legally enforceable on individual brands, maintains independent oversight and can be expanded to other countries.
Some brands have communicated email statements of intent, including Zara parent company Inditex, but Remake organizers say the statements do not suffice “until the ink is dry on a new Accord agreement.”
Noting fashion brands have learned little from Rana Plaza, Ayesha Barenblat, chief executive officer and founder of Remake, said, “The Accord is the singular most successful agreement to keep makers safe given its binding nature. It is time for American brands especially PVH and American Eagle Outfitters to step-up as Asos, G-Star, Esprit, and Uniqlo have and agreed to renew and expand the Accord.”