Australian fashion labels are being forced to think about where their clothes are made in the wake of the garment factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which has killed over 380 people.
The April 24 collapse of the eight-storey building has seen fashion brands mango and Benetton come under scrutiny for their use of Bangladeshi factory labour. According to Time magazine, it is “almost certainly” the worst garment factory disaster of all time.
Bangladesh is widely used by clothing companies, and, according to figures mentioned by Radio Australia, the country’s approximately 4500 textile factories provide 80 per cent of its exports and 4 million of its jobs.
"I think from a fashion industry perspective it's been a major wake-up call for all people,” Karen Webster, a former director of the Melbourne Fashion Festival, told the ABC’s 7:30 on Tuesday.
"Every company is reassessing how they get their garments produced – not even just those large-scale chains, even smaller independent businesses.
"Anyone who's producing offshore would have to be looking at how their garments are being produced and making sure they are being made in adequate conditions."
On Tuesday Oxfam Australia advised Australian companies which import clothes from Bangladesh, such as Big W, to reconsider their use of the country’s supplier factories.
"Those companies need to answer why they're making in Bangladesh and they need to be completely transparent about their supply chain," said Michelle O’Neill from the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of David Jones, which has recently agreed to a deal to sell Mango clothes.
Mango, a Spanish fashion label, sourced some of its clothes from the collapsed Dhaka factory.