This week we learned of yet another fire in a garment factory in Bangladesh, this one killing more than 100 people. Before the nine-storey building blazed, workers at Tazreen Fashions Ltd. in Dhaka were making clothes for Wal-Mart and Walt Disney, among other retailers. The International Labor Rights Forum estimates that since 2005, more than 700 garment workers have died in Bangladesh as a result of safety violations in buildings. Survivors of the Tazreen fire told The Guardian that managers stopped workers from leaving the building after a fire alarm and locked the doors. Then came a panicked crush; bodies were charred beyond recognition. All this for a job that earned most workers less than $40 a month.
So this is the dark side of “more.” And we are consuming more, for less money, than we used to. In 1969, Canadians spent 10.5 per cent of household income on clothing and accessories; in 2010, that figure dropped to 6.5 per cent. An insatiable appetite for makeover shows and a mainstreaming of the fashionista ideal have coincided with a total transformation of clothing production. According to a recent article in The New York Times Magazine, it now takes “fast fashion” leader Zara two to three weeks to move an item from an idea in a studio to a hanger in a store....
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