Stitched Up

Stitched Up: The anti-capitalist book of fashion, by Tansy Hoskins, reviewed by Paul Collins

June 23, 2014 · 2 min read

stitched-upA total of 1,127 people, mainly female garment workers, were killed and 2,000 injured when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 24 April 2013. The building, which had been constructed illegally, housed three garment factories, producing clothes for major high street brands and UK retailers. Cracks in the building had been discovered the day before, but the garment workers were told to continue working.

In the run-up to the Rana Plaza disaster’s first anniversary this book shows the human cost of our multi-billion fashion industry, where beautiful clothes mean ugly exploitation, physical and verbal abuse – and death. Stitched Up also honours the industry’s many other victims, such as those who leapt to their deaths from burning factories and Cambodians shot dead by police in poverty wage protests.

Hoskins debunks the myth that some high street brands offer better ethics than others, when none ensures a living wage for the millions producing garments. The cheap throwaway outfits she labels as an environmental threat to the planet symbolise the disposable automatons who make them, while often struggling to feed their families in urban slums.

The book also delivers a suitable riposte to shoppers who justify inexpensive purchases in the face of sustained austerity. Decent pay, Hoskins makes clear, could be financed from only a few pence added to price tags.

The Rana Plaza disaster pushed retailers to sign the legally binding Bangladesh safety accord, a landmark agreement to bring together brands, retailers, trade unions and supplier factories to address building and fire safety in Bangladesh’s garment factories. Yet retail giants, including Walmart/Asda and Gap, rejected the accord. Meanwhile, bereaved families and maimed workers still await long-term compensation.

Stitched Up is a fitting memorial to those killed in the Rana Plaza disaster and the many other victims of the world of fashion.

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