Since the Rana Plaza disaster, the garment industry has been under scrutiny for its labor practices and environmental impact. Designers and organizations worldwide are now working to revolutionize the fashion industry by implementing sustainable practices and advocating for workers’ rights.

Fashion Revolution and the Fight for Transparency

Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro founded Fashion Revolution to mobilize global citizens and pressure fast fashion brands through the #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign. The Fashion Transparency Index ranks brands based on their public disclosure of human rights and environmental policies. However, only 4% of brands reveal whether their garment workers earn a living wage. Organizations like Clean Clothes Campaign, Remake, Fair Wear Foundation, and Labour Behind the Label continue to call for proper compensation for Rana Plaza survivors and commitments to ensure worker safety.

International and Domestic Efforts for Workers’ Rights

The International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry was formed in 2021 with 190 brand and labor union signatories, but its protections only extend to workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan. In the US, the FABRIC bill proposes workplace protections and incentives for domestic apparel manufacturing, while ending piecework in favor of hourly wages.

3D Technology and Sustainable Design

Saudi fashion designer Ghaydaa Majdaly is using 3D technology to design and produce sustainable clothes. Her first sustainable fashion piece was made out of plastic water bottles, which she turned into sustainable and environment-friendly fabrics. Majdaly reuses fabrics to produce new fashion pieces and follows a zero-waste strategy when designing. 3D software programs are simplifying the design process and improve product quality while reducing the environmental footprint.

Combating Microplastics in the Fashion Industry

Microplastics are a growing threat to human and planetary health, present in everyday items such as cigarettes, clothing, and cosmetics. Plastics, including polyester, acrylic, and nylon, comprise approximately 60% of all clothing material, shedding microplastics known as microfibers when washed or worn. Experts recommend re-wearing clothes more often and washing them less often to reduce microplastic losses. UNEP and other UN agencies are driving coordinated action in the industry and campaigning for government action to transition towards a sustainable and circular textile value chain with minimal microplastics.