Business of Fashion have revealed their sixth annual BoF 500, and the list is full of game changers, disruptors, innovators and activists but one name jumps out as we have never heard of it before….
Just like Hollywood, the field of fashion was shaken by a series of events that were set to uncover the much darker sider of fashion’s behind the scenes. From sexual harassment allegations to inappropriate conduct, to the much more profound issues of gender parity, diversity, and labor abuse, the fashion world has to make a few wide strides to cover some much needed ground.
Thus, the annual BoF 500 which celebrates the people shaping the global fashion industry had a tough job for their 6th annual release. This is why we see this year’s list full of pioneering names that are sure to shift the focus from the negative to the positive. This will be the new generation of fashion innovators that are still proud of their deeply-rooted values and actually model them in their business as well as their personal lives.
The four covers released by BoF boast a few powerful names that are making waves right now such as Off-White’s And LV’s Virgil Abloh, Black-ish star Yara Shahidi, and François-Henri Penault chairman and chief executive of Kering (simply the owners of Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga). Each of these names, in his or her own way, have re-shaped the way we think of ourselves and the outside world…they have simply given us a newer perspective in which it is safe to do the right thing and be praised for it.
The fourth and final cover however, was somewhat of an enigma. ‘The Activist’ cover featured Kalpona Akter, a lady from Bangladesh who at the age of 12 started working in a garment factory and went on to become an activist for Bangladeshi garment workers; she founded Bangladesh Centre for Work Solidarity to fight against the exploitation of garment workers in Bangladesh. She was awarded the Human Rights Watch’s Award for Extraordinary Activism. For anyone involved in the fashion industry, they will immediately understand the weight and significance of this issue as there has been countless calls to better the conditions of garment factory workers in underdeveloped countries but all would fall on deaf ears.
The sad life of garment factory workers first became known after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, when 1,134 people were killed in the collapse of the eight-storey commercial center. What’s even worse is that despite the commotion that followed that disaster not much has changed for garment workers in Bangladesh. Safety is still a huge concern for these workers, they are hugely underpaid with some earning as low as the equivalent of $62 per month, and on top of that the majority of the women workers have to tolerate gender-based abuse from their male bosses.
Having Kalpona Akter on the fourth cover is a huge statement that should draw attention to an industry that is made mostly of women. When one in three women is a victim of violence, imagine how that percentage should look like when we are discussing the fashion industry. This is some food for thought for you….