For decades, brands have thrived on obfuscation and diversion. Pay no attention to the supply chain behind the curtain! Ignore the human-rights abuses that are responsible for this incredible bargain! Turn a blind eye to the environmental degradation that’s paying for this mind-blowingly cheap deal!
But as the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh proved, opacity can be more of a bane than a panacea. When the eight-story building fell apart at its seams on the morning of April 24, 2013, 1,134 garment workers lost their lives, and thousands more barely escaped with grievous injuries or missing limbs.
In a matter of hours, the disaster had cemented its place as the worst industrial accident in the South Asian nation’s history, yet it would be weeks before some of the world’s biggest apparel brands were able to ascertain their relationship, if any, with the factories that called Rana Plaza home.