For 200+ years the textile industry responded to demands for better pay and working conditions, unions and laws regulating safety by running away – dumping the current workforce for cheap labor in a new location. I witnessed the cycle of anti-union tactics, poor working conditions and wages, empty factories and unemployment lines first-hand as a garment worker in my twenties. American textile mills and garment factories gobbled up and spit out each new wave of immigrants, moved from New England west, from the north to the south, and finally to third world countries, in a never ending search for cheap labor, less regulation and greater profit. The history is not pretty. On April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight-story commercial building, collapsed near Dhaka, Bangladesh, claiming the lives of 1,129 people and injuring an additional 2,515. American corporations, including Walmart, Gap, Target and Macy’s, refuse to sign a legally binding accord (signed by 70+ European companies) to pay for safety improvements in the factories in Bangladesh where their clothing is produced. Fashion To Die For is my response, a call to action: it is time to demand the clothing industry to put basic human rights before profit.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
Lynn Estomin is a multi-media artist interested in human stories and what they tell us about society. Fashion To Die For draws on her personal experience as a garment worker and organizer. Estomin’s award-winning work has screened at festivals internationally and on PBS. She is a Professor of Art in PA.