Rana Plaza and Fast Fashion — What is it and why did it happen?

Chelsea Webster
5 min readApr 26, 2019

To get more articles like this straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Joy Thief newsletter.

April 24th marks the date of the horrific Rana Plaza collapse, where 1,134 people died, and over 2,500 were injured. This devastating incident is the deadliest garment factory accident to date. All for the sake of profit and fashion.

Famous photo depicting the devastation at Rana Plaza

What was Rana Plaza?

Rana Plaza was a building that contained multiple clothing factories. Items were manufactured for the likes of Benetton, Bonmarché, The Children’s Place, Joe Fresh, Monsoon, Accessorize, Mango, Matalan, Primark, Walmart, and Zara. The lower portions of the building also contained shops, a bank, and some apartments. Sadly the building collapsed, killing and injuring many people.

What happened at Rana Plaza?

On April 23rd, 2013, attention was drawn to cracks in Rana Plaza, causing evacuation, closure and a warning to avoid the building. Owner, Sohel Rana, stated the building was safe to return to. Subsequently, factory owners threatened to withhold pay from workers who refused to return to work. Other units in the building remained closed and evacuated. The building collapsed the morning of April 24th, with over 3,000 people inside.

Local search and rescue team got to work, slowly recovering workers from the rubble. The UN offered support, which was declined by the Bangladesh government. Over 2,500 people were injured and, miraculously, a woman was rescued alive with few injuries, 17 days after the collapse! Unfortunately, 1,134 people died. There is often a disparity of genders in garment factories, resulting in over half the victims being female. However, there were nursery facilities in the building, and a number of children also died.

What caused the tragedy of the Rana Plaza collapse?

Chelsea Webster

Activist for Joy. Writes to highlight how power systems steal your joy & how you can steal it back from a disabled, neurodivergent, working class perspective..