Workers in Bangladesh have taken to the streets to demonstrate after yesterday's deadly garment factory fire. The death toll from the blaze at Tazreen Fashions Ltd., a supplier for Wal-Mart and the global sourcing and production giant Li & Fung, is not yet known, but current reports put it at up to 124 lives. Victims are still being identified, and more than 200 people were injured. The factory reportedly lacked emergency exits. It had already been written up by Wal-Mart as a "high-risk" facility. Garment workers demanding justice for the worst industrial fire to ever take place in Bangladesh blocked streets in the industrial zone outside Dhaka where Tazreen and other garment factories are located.
"We hope the tragic fire at Tazreen will serve as an urgent call to action for all major brands that rely on Bangladesh's low wages to make a profit," says Judy Gearhart, the executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum. The ILRF says Tazreen produced clothing for brands and companies including Faded Glory, C&A, Dickies, and Enyce.
Bangladesh is the world's second-largest exporter of apparel after China, and it has among the lowest minimum wages for garment workers ($37 per month) of any nation on earth. When safety standards are not enforced, or nonexistent, garment factories are at significant risk for fire because of the presence of highly flammable chemicals, fabrics, yarns, and airborne lint, dangerous electrical wiring, and overcrowding. The deadly industrial incidents that have been all but eliminated in the West thanks to reforms enacted after disasters such as the Triangle Shirtwaist fire are still common in the countries where most apparel production now takes place. Pressure from major retailers who serve a Western customer base that has come to think of unprecedented, historically low clothing prices as "normal" keeps suppliers like Tazreen operating on razor-thin margins; in an environment with poor regulatory oversight for working conditions and safety — and where much oversight is in fact voluntary self-regulation by the industry — many factories cut corners in order to churn out fast fashion in the shortest time possible. In Bangladesh, more than 700 garment workers have died in factory fires since 2005. A factory fire in Karachi, Pakistan, this September killed over 300 people. The world over, most garment workers are women and girls living in poverty. [Bloomberg, WSJ, WWD]
Cindy Crawford is on the new cover of Shape. [HuffPo]
And Kendall Jenner, of all people, is on the cover of Miss Vogue, a spinoff of Vogue Australia. [Fashionista]
Meanwhile, Saskia de Brauw — who is, you know, a woman — has been cast as the face of Yves Saint Laurent's men's wear collection. [Fashionista]
- Nicolas Ghesquière, whose time at Balenciaga marked a period of both critical acclaim and commercial success, is expected to be a hot commodity on the fashion designer job market when he officially steps down on November 30. Industry analysts put the likelihood of Ghesquière getting private backing for a namesake label as pretty low because of the enormous start-up costs, but he is rumored to be in talks with Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy boss Bernard Arnault. [WWD]
- Carla Bruni, the tire heiress-turned-model-turned-musician-turned First Lady, says in the new Vogue Paris that "We don't need to be feminist in my generation." Bruni continued, "I'm not at all an active feminist. On the contrary, I'm a bourgeois. I love family life, I love doing the same thing every day." A woman's place is in the home, you see. Or at least one of her homes. [Daily Mail]
- Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller has a different perspective. "I think any girl that works in fashion is in some capacity a feminist. Number one, because you're working; number two, because somewhere — even if you aren't willing to admit it — you believe that you can express something through clothes...I don't know, I think it's hard not to be a feminist in New York in the 21st century." Medine also mentions that she has a clothing line coming out in February. [Guest of a Guest]
- Just when that whole YSL...thing had died down, the company C.E.O. wrote a letter to Women's Wear Daily to complain about the trade paper's coverage of the critical response to new designer Hedi Slimane's first women's wear collection for the brand, which WWD (accurately, perhaps even kindly) characterized as "comparatively tepid." Sigh. Will our long international nightmare never end? [WWD]
- Remember the Runway to Win project, Anna Wintour's attempt to enlist fashion designers to make and sell Obama campaign merchandise? It raised over $40 million, according to Jim Messina. [BusinessWeek]
- Today in unexpected fashion collaborations: Hermès and Comme des Garçons. This should result in some unusual scarves. [WWD]
- L'Oréal is acquiring Urban Decay. [WWD]
- Grace Coddington speaks to Sarah Mower about her career and her new memoir, Grace, in this video. [Vogue UK]
- And now, a moment with Mick Jagger and L'Wren Scott — he is a musician, she is a designer, and they are a couple — talking about Scott's costumes for Jagger's tour. Jagger:
"When you're onstage [the costumes] have to fit, and they have to be — for me — glamorous. They have to fit in with the show. If you're doing a small club like we did the other week [in Paris], you don't want to dress up like a popinjay. If you're playing in a really big stadium, you want to be in superbright colors, otherwise you just get lost. But if you're in an arena that's really well-lit, like we're going to be in the next few shows, you don't have to be looking like a Day-Glo."
- And Scott:
"The fact that you're close with someone or friends with them can be good and bad. It's good that you know their comfort levels, and how far you can push. But, at the same time, you need to avoid having too many emotions and feelings because you have to listen very carefully to their ideas. You have to make sure that your creation, your vision [is in tune with theirs]...Mick really has his own style, and he is quite opinionated about how he wants to look. At the end of the day, [the performer] has to feel good in it. It's not you or I dancing and prancing out there."