The tragic collapse of the Bangladeshi factory that killed more than 1,100 workers, has shed new light on fast fashion, the sweatshop economy and the desperate need for reform. Considered to be the worst disaster of its kind in the history of the garment industry, the death toll is nearly eight times that of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York in 1911.
Unfortunately it takes an atrocity of this magnitude to initiate even the smallest steps to changing the working conditions for millions of men, women and often children in the developing world. It appears there are reforms on the way after the Dhaka disaster, and of course they're better late than never with several of the largest apparel companies, including H&M, Zara, and Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger owner PVH signing an agreement that promises to overhaul the way health and safety is monitored in Bangladesh. However, there is still a long way to go before the lives of Bangladeshi factory workers improve, to say nothing of all the other emerging market countries where conditions in fast-fashion factories remain a serious concern.
Belabumbum's foray into the fashion world has been quite the opposite as it has been from the bottom up. (no pun intended!) After spending over a decade managing social development programs for marginalized youth and women throughout the Americas, I came to the conclusion that job creation in was the key to sustainable development. We launched the Belabumbum brand and began helping small family factories grow organically. We deliberately chose production facilities with safe working conditions and good benefits for their employees. As the demand for Belabumbum grew, employment opportunities grew for more and more people.
Ten years later, Belabumbum continues to work cooperatively with socially conscious manufacturers in Central and South America to ensure excellent working conditions and job security. We remain committed to producing in the Western Hemisphere, and may have a slimmer profit margins as a result— but ethics matter. We work in places that I genuinely enjoy visiting and I even take my five year old daughter Neena along with me. She recently worked with me in our factory in Brazil for a week and had a lot of fun making art out of fabric scraps
We know that Belabumbum's customers genuinely care about where their products come from. You can make a difference by signing the petition asking GAP and other fashion giants to sign a binding agreement for safer factories in Bangladesh here