FIBERcast8: Two Years After the Rana Plaza, What Has Changed?


  • Zara Hayes, Director of Clothes to Die For
  • Sarah Hamilton, Producer of Clothes to Die For
  • Mara Burr, Senior vice president from the Albright Stonebridge Group
  • Avedis Seferian, President and CEO of Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production(WRAP)
  • Marsha A. Dickson, Professor of Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies, Irma Ayers Professor of Human Services, Co-Director of Sustainable Apparel Initiative, University of Delaware

Panel discussion questions:

  • What does the Rana Plaza tragedy bring out those aspects of the garment industry that many people don’t know?
  • What was it like going to Bangladesh and talking to survivors of the Rana Plaza? What are the behind the scene stories of filming the documentary Clothes To Die For?
  • What changes are happening in the Bangladesh garment industry after the Rana Plaza? Particularly, what people in Bangladesh are doing to prevent tragedies like the Rana Plaza from happening again?
  • The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (the Alliance) is a major effort from the U.S. business community in response to the Rana Plaza tragedy. What the Alliance has being doing, what major accomplishments have been achieved and what is the future work plan of the organization?
  • Has corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices in the Bangladesh garment industry critically improved after the Rana Plaza? Compared with other leading apparel manufacturers in the world such as China, Vietnam, India, Cambodia and Indonesia, is Bangladesh still significantly lagging behind in terms of corporate social responsibility practices?
  • How does the academia look at the Rana Plaza? Does the tragedy lead to some new research questions? What is the “academic” recipe for improving the CSR practices in the Bangladesh garment industry?
  • Will enhanced factory inspection increase production cost and make apparel “Made in Bangladesh” lose price competitiveness?
  • To prevent tragedies like the Rana Plaza from happening again, what each individual consumer can do or should do?
  • Sub-contracting is regarded as an indispensable part of today’s global apparel supply chain. But factories undertaking sub-contracting work operate in a “black box”—many of them are off the chart for inspection and audit. Any progress or new thinking on how to solve the sub-contracting issue in the garment industry?

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

15 thoughts on “FIBERcast8: Two Years After the Rana Plaza, What Has Changed?”

  1. It’s really interesting to be able to hear the producer and director of Clothes to Die For speak on their experiences while filming the documentary. The documentary does an amazing job of showing the real experiences that people had to face while working in Rana Plaza and how the collapse truly impacted them directly. I wonder what their most interesting and/or eye opening experience was when they were in Bangladesh- it’s one thing for students to watch the documentary from the comfort of our classrooms or homes, but its another story to actually be where it all happened. It provides valuable insight as a student that is working to get involved in the fashion industry where these issues are vastly important to be aware of.

    1. in the first part of the webinar, panelists described their experiences visiting Bangladesh and talking with the local people. many great points were raised in the whole webinar.

  2. The Rana Plaza tragedy was one of the most devastating that the industry has seen. However, it is important to remember that just because one factory saw such a tragedy does not mean that the entire region’s operations are run so poorly. I feel that instances like this tend to cloud the vision of how these factories are run as a whole, and I’m glad that the speakers spoke about how that isn’t quite the case. Like Avedis Seferian said, it is important to remember this instance because these factories are such a dire part of the industry and when these people (workers) are put in such a dangerous and compromised position, it makes people listen. Maybe that could ultimately help a change be brought about and prevent future instances like this. Additionally, listening to the personal accounts of how the speakers interacted with the survivors was quite eye opening. This was such a devastating tragedy and it is so important that it doesn’t happen again.

  3. I believe that we can all have an impact on the factories in Bangladesh. In order to advocate for the workers in Bangladesh we can purchase clothing from brands that we know use factories with safe working conditions. The government should enforce all brands to say on their website where the clothes are being made and a description of the factory. Complete transparency is key to creating safer factories. Corrupt managers need to be terminated and replaced with managers that will follow the rules. It is going to be difficult to change the factory conditions but it is something that has to be done to save lives.

  4. I agree with the above comments. It is extremely important to have transparency in order to ensure that these tragedies do not occur. There are so many systems in place now for inspection of factories, but this is not enough. I think there should be a system in place before factories open, especially in less developed countries. If there was more involvement before the factory is built, there is a possibility it will help to decrease the need for so many inspections.

  5. I think the above comments are very accurate. I think its very important to purchase clothing from brands that we know use factories with safe working conditions to help the problem. The Rana Plaza Tragedy roots back to a corrupt industry. There needs to be limitations on factories and proper rules in place to ensure peoples safety. Transparency is needed to help prevent something like this from happening again. With so much news spread about this tragedy, it is introducing the workplace safety issues to many people and hopefully this knowledge can get the ball rolling and eventually put an end to these working conditions.

  6. The Rana Plaza collapse was among one of the most interesting case studies to research. While it was an absolute tragedy, it proved the lengths people go in this industry to meet deadlines and make money. More than 1,000 workers were killed in the rubble of the Rana Plaza collapse. While there are many factors that contributed to this terrible disaster, the government officials have repeatedly failed to ensure that safety standards and building codes were met in Bangladesh.
    After hearing the actual effects and devestation of this tragedy, I feel encouraged to stay educated and updated on the issues that revolve around this industry. It is so important to remember the people and processes in the creation of the apparel we wear. We overlook the people who have died creating apparel in underpaid jobs and unacceptable working conditions. If powerful parties such as western retailers and governments around the world enforce a safer and better system in this industry, tragedies like the Rana Plaza collapse may never have to happen again.

  7. The Rana Plaza incident was a tragedy that should not ever happen again. I believe this tragedy could have been easily prevented. Several parties, including the government, retail companies, and Rana Plaza himself could have prevented this. This tragedy fell through by so many people, which makes it even more devastating!

    After leaning about the Rana Plaza incident, I have developed a new view on where my clothing comes from. I always check the tag to see where the clothing was made. And I think about who and how it was made. Looking at tags “Made in Bangladesh,” I can only think about the Rana Plaza tragedy.

    I think if more consumers are educated and aware of what it takes to make their clothing, consumers will make wiser decisions. This will effect retailers and they will therefore make sustainable decisions when buying or producing clothing.

    But the issue come down to cost. Will a retailer and consumer give up low cost for more sustainable clothing?

    I think the Rana Plaza incident shows the REAL cost of cheap clothing.

  8. I believe that one of the most beneficial and eye opening experiences I had throughout FASH455 was learning about the Rana Plaza tragedy, mainly through the well put together documentary “Clothes to Die for”. Even before having the opportunity to assist with the FiberCast webinar I was captivated by the story that was being told through the film, mainly the actions of the workers and their decisions to continue to go to work that day even with the knowledge of a potential hazard. This really opened my eyes to the stark differences between the American society and other developed nations versus those that are still becoming a highly developed economy. When listening to the panelist speak about the tragedy, as well as their experiences and knowledge, one thing became very apparent, that traveling to this country had changed the lives of all of those that had ventured there, not just Zara and Sarah. To me this was extremely interesting, the fact that traveling to Bangladesh and witnessing what was depicted throughout the film, was so life changing to each of these panelists that they had decided to devote at least some time and effort into researching more to help improve conditions. This really makes me wonder, how many other developing nations have similar conditions and simply do not gain attention because they have not experienced such a tragedy? Moreover, as time progresses and trade agreements such as TPP grow into actionable initiatives, will problems such as these occur in new locations, and if so, how can we take what has been learned from this tragedy and the efforts since then to ensure incidents like this do not occur again?

  9. Learning about the Rana Plaza Tragedy in our case study in class and seeing this video really changed my viewpoint on the T&A industry globally. It so sad how tragedy’s like this can occur from irresponsible behavior from factories and how an entire region and its people can be affected by it. I believe that it is important to make a difference for workers who live and work in unfair and brutal conditions like this. It is completely dangerous and unsafe for workers to be put in this position as they are obviously risking their lives, just so they can make income and provide a living for their families. It is very important to learn where our clothing comes from and who makes it and how they make it under certain brutal, devastating, and intense conditions like this.

  10. Reading the case study on the Rana Plaza collapse, as well as watching this video has changed my perspective on the way I see the textile and apparel industry. We always hear of how bad working conditions are outside the United States, but no one truly understands what “bad conditions” really mean. Before FASH 455 I had heard about the Rana Plaza collapse but did not even know workers were still in the building, did not know they were already warned about a crack in the building and did not know the owner made them go to work that day knowingly putting their lives in danger.

    The working conditions around the world, not just in Bangladesh, continue to be a rising issue in the textile and apparel industry and it is time for people to speak up and make a difference. One issue that I believe was behind the Rana Plaza collapse was the way inspectors handle factory inspections. Most of the time theses inspectors can be paid off or warn the factories before the come so that they can be sure to hide any illegal activities going on in the building. These inspections need to be taken more seriously, or more incidents like the Rana Plaza collapse will continues. Although I believe these inspections are necessary, it definitely will increase production cost. Most factories violate many rules and with stricter inspections they will need to make lots of changes that will be timely and costly, effecting the production rate of their goods which in the end will increase the total cost of production. In order for this so succeed we as consumers need to be willing to pay more for products. Yes, we all want the best product for the cheapest price, but if more people become aware on what a few extra dollars on items are going to, then people will be more willing to spend more.

    Additionally I believe its important to continue to spread awareness about working conditions to all ages around the world. Before coming to college I had not know about the Rana plaza collapse, nor did I have a clue on the poor working conditions around the world. I was lucky enough to then be educated about it in school, but now knowing how extreme the conditions are, I wish I had known earlier. The earlier we start spreading awareness, the more of an impact we can make on bring changes to the poor working conditions that are hidden in the textile and apparel industry.

  11. The Rana Plaza collapse was a very eye opening case study. I had heard about this, but not to the extent of everything I read and watched about. To prevent tragedies like the Rana Plaza from happening again, we as consumers need to do our own research and gain knowledge on this topic. As much as the responsibility falls on the retailers that we purchase goods from, it is our responsibility as citizens and our own social responsibility to support brands that support healthy working conditions of those employees in factories. If our generation of consumers raised awareness on this global issue and were willing to pay a little more for goods, it could make all the difference. Getting the world of consumers to agree on paying higher prices is a stretch, but creating awareness is a start.

  12. The Rana Plaza tragedy was so devastating to hear about. Performing a case study on this topic was so eye opening, and brought to life so many issues i wasn’t apparent existed in this fashion industry. In class, after we watched the film, i was shocked at the amount of people who were killed or injured in the accident, and so upset to see how Rana himself reacted to the incident was even more upsetting.
    I honestly believe that with hard work this tragedy could have easily been prevented. Instead of lying to the inspectors, and constantly hiding everything the factories are doing wrong, the factory managers and owners should take these limitations and rules seriously. All it would take is an extremely small amount of possible cost (money wise), and extra effort to ensure that the rules and regulations are being followed. While this extra cost could make production cost go up, it would go up by such a small amount that it truly shouldn’t effect big companies like Walmart.
    There are many steps that need to be taken in order for tragedies like Rana Plaza to never happen again. Not only do the factory managers and owners need to step in, so do the companies using the factories. They need to take serious precautions before they use a factory, and do things like surprise visits to ensure that all of the rules are really being followed. And the best thing that consumers can do to help is to be educated. It isn’t realistic that all of the consumers across the world will stop shopping at stores like Walmart who used the Rana Plaza. But the more people who are aware of what is going on, the better chance the world has to improve factories like this.

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