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Five thousand miles away in Bangladesh, the Phantom Tac factory in the industrial suburb of Savar was a hive of human hands. Hundreds of men and women hunched over sewing machines to produce garments in an assembly line system unchanged for years. Speed was also essential, but that just meant people had to work faster.
Last spring, as it pushed forward with global expansion plans, Mango turned to Phantom Tac to produce a sample order of polo shirts and other items. Then, on April 24, the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people in the deadliest disaster in garment industry history, and destroying Phantom Tac and other operations in the building.
Now, eight months later, the question is what responsibility Mango and other brands should bear toward the victims of Rana Plaza, a disaster that exposed the murkiness and lack of accountability in the global supply chain for clothes. Under intense international pressure, four brands agreed last week to help finance a landmark $40 million compensation fund for the victims.
Factories like Phantom Tac in Bangladesh and the Mango operations in Spain are part of the same supply chains, but might as well be from different worlds.
Ted Rudow III, MA