For Christy Turlington Burns, one preventable death is a death too many. The supermodel-philanthropist, whose nonprofit organization, Every Mother Counts, works to improve the safety of pregnancy and childbirth in developing countries like Bangladesh, describes the concept of sacrificing people for profit, particularly in the garment industry, as a failure of conscience. “Looking at women’s rights in the countries where we work…one of the greatest advances in the last 20 years has been that more girls and women have access to education and financial opportunity to earn for themselves, to earn more for their families,” she tells fellow clotheshorse Amber Valletta in the fourth and final episode of Thread: Driving Fashion Forward. “They march to the factory in the morning, those who work in the garment industry, and you see them…you see these beautiful colors through the street. This is something we should celebrate.”


The reality, however, is far less idyllic. “When you see the flip side of that: they’re not receiving healthcare, they’re in cramped spaces that are poorly built, and we’ve seen in in Rana Plaza, we’ve seen it in numerous places in Bangladesh and other places in the world where fires break out, hundreds and thousands of people are dying because of unsafe conditions,” she continues. “That’s the part that, like, ‘no, we have to do better.’ One preventable death is a death too many.”

“One preventable death is a death too many.”

The commoditization of hundreds of thousands of human lives is something we can’t stand by and let happen, Turlington Burns says. “It’s like the prices of the garments go up and the labor goes down—that’s the part I just don’t understand. The margins are enormous,” she adds. “The idea that human beings are being sacrificed for that margin is just completely unethical.”

+ Thread: Driving Fashion Forward