Today is the 103rd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, the New York City garment factory fire that killed 146 workers (mostly immigrant women) when a dropped match lit fabric and patterns ablaze and locked doors trapped women inside.
The tragedy prompted major labor and workplace safety reforms in New York. They were valuable, but are about as relevant to contemporary fashion as shirtwaists themselves: Today, more than 97 percent of American garments are imported from countries where our century-old regulations are not adequately enforced, like Bangladesh, the world's second-largest garment exporter. Bangladesh's Rana Plaza garment factory was the site of the deadliest accident in the history of the garment industry less than a year ago, when a factory built without a permit — but that passed Western audits — collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people.(More than half of the victims were women.)
Triangle Shirtwaist girls made between $7 and $12 dollars a week; the minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh at the time of the Rana Plaza collapse was $38 a month (not adjusted for inflation or cost of living). After worker protests following the disaster, Bangladesh's government raised it to $68 a month, still way below the estimated living wage of $105 a month.
Meanwhile, the U.N.'s International Labor Organization (ILO) has been struggling to raise $40 million for the victims and their families from the retailers linked to the factory, including Joe Fresh, Benetton, Walmart, the Children’s Place, Mango, and Bonmarche. Last week, the ILO lost its biggest contributor in U.K. discount retailer Primark, which instead opted to pay $9 million to its own workers, leaving $1 million for the communal pot. In case you needed any more justification for buying expensive clothing.
Most Viewed Stories
Connecticut Politician Arrested for Pinching Woman’s Genitals
The Sheer Perfection of Donald Trump’s Golden Shower
The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for the Women’s March
15 Protest Sign Ideas for the Women’s March on Washington
The Divorced Mom Who Cries After Sex
Pakistani Pop Star Stops Concert When He Spots Sexual Harassment
What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage
Madame Clairevoyant: Horoscopes for the Week of January 16
I’m Anti-Trump, But I Refuse to March
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.