Last year, Swedish brand H&M opened their first store in Jakarta. Unlike H&M shops here in The Netherlands and other European countries, H&M in Jakarta is presented als luxe brand. The shops are located in exclusive malls. The prices are also according to the brand image there, expensive. I find this interesting as H&M offers street fashion with affordable prices. It is marketed as a street wear brand for fashion concious people with a budget here in Europe. Sometimes I see on its label, made in Indonesia, made in Romania or made in Bangladesh.
There is high demand in the fashion world. It seems long time ago when fashion brands introduced their collections according to the seasons (fall/winter or spring/summer). Nowadays, new collection appears each 4 – 6 weeks. The brands pick up trends from haute couture fastly, transforming it to street wear. It is affordable and cheap. However not many buyers knew and were aware that the collections were made in developing countries, under poor circumstances. Untill one factory building near Dhakka, Bangladesh collapsed on 24 April 2013. The accident took circa 1000 lives and injured 2500 people. In that 8 storey building there were workers of garment industry producing clothes for western retailers. Some retailers were well-known brands.
Due to that terrible accident, an official accord called Bangladesh accord was set up. On its website it says: The Accord is an independent agreement designed to make all garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces. It includes independent safety inspections at factories and public reporting of the results of these inspections. This accord is legally binding agreement. Once a brand signed it, it must live up to it. These following well-known brands in West – Europe have signed this accord: H&M, Primark, Inditex (Zara, Bershka, Pull and Bear, Massimo Dutti), Mango, Benetton, Puma, Adidas, River Island, Esprit. If you are curious whether your favorite fashion brands have signed this accord, look at The Bangladesh Accord Signatories.
Last week, the upcoming Irish street wear brand Primark, opened its branche in Arnhem. Primark is busy with expansion in mainland Europe. It offers cheap stuffs, the prices are lower than H&M. Primark signed Bangladesh accord too. But why does it feel wrong to be able to buy fashion items so cheap it makes me wonder how much the cost price is? The irony is western fashion brands make profit from their products made in developing countries. Then the same products are sold in countries where they are made.
This is just my thought. Do not get me wrong, I do not preach that you should not buy clothes made by garment industry in developing countries. I fully understand those who are on the budget and can not afford honest and fair made garments. Some of my Indonesian friends support local fashion brands. I do buy some clothes from those brands (H&M, Zara, Mango, Massimo Dutti, Adidas etc) who signed the Bangladesh accord. There is a but and a question though; this fire and safety issue in Bangladeshi garment industry is handled with this accord, but how about garment industries for the same brands in other countries?. That is the reason why I write this post.
Closing this thought I want to ask you something; do you know where your clothes come from?