As models line up to walk the Lincoln Center runways at this year’s New York Fashion Week, for Nautica’s spring 2014 collection, some can be found outside on the steps. Lead by model Sara Ziff, a group of models and activists have taken to the stairs, to protest the fashion line’s refusal to sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. In light of the recent deaths at sweatshops in Bangladesh, the group is pushing for a boycott of the brand until they comply with the safety bill.
Along with Vans and Jansport, Nautica is owned by fashion company VF, which together use the most Bangladeshi factories by an American company. Over 60 American brands including competitors Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein have signed the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building safety, which holds companies accountable for Bangladeshi labor rights and working conditions. But Nautica claims they’ve done enough, joining the alternate Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. However, although the American-based plan seems altruistic, it is not legally binding, meaning that retailers and fashion brands would not in fact suffer any consequences should Bangladeshi workers rights or safety be violated.
Ziff became interested in advocating for workers rights after visiting Bangladesh last year. Along with other models, she has organized the protest, right alongside paparazzi and arriving guests to the big New York Fashion Week shows.