Uncovering the Fashion Industry in Bangladesh

This program has been paused and is currently not being offered. View more programs from Operation Groundswell.

Video and Photos


The global fashion industry is a complex beast; it’s hard to imagine where to even begin. But at Operation Groundswell, we’re here to peel back the layers in the very place that produces such a huge bulk of our clothing: Bangladesh.

Employing about 4 million people – mostly women – the fast fashion industry is now worth $19 billion annually. It is a huge force that has massive repercussions for both consumers and producers.

On our Fashion in Flux program, we will explore the hidden complexity behind fast fashion — an industry inextricably linked to both devastating exploitation and hopeful progress, as it lifts millions of young women out of abject poverty through employment.

We will uncover the garment industry’s environmental effects and discover how it is inextricably linked to women’s rights and empowerment. As we meet with experts and industry insiders, we’ll learn how we, as individuals, can trigger change by wearing our values. Are you up for the challenge?

  • Embrace the chaos and complexity of a country few have traveled, from its endless waterways to its jam-packed streets.
  • Dive deep into an exploration of the garment industry, examining its harmful and exploitative side, as well as the ethical and empowering possibilities.
  • Get your hands dirty as you learn to dye, weave, and embroider with Bangladesh’s first fair trade collective!
  • Kick back and relax at Cox’s Bazar, the longest continuous natural beach in the world.

Financial Grants Available!

Our financial grants program can cover 15-25% of your program fee. Simply apply for an OG program and contact our financial support team. Visit our website for more information!

Questions & Answers

We witnessed a lot of incredible things throughout our trip, but I would have to say that my favorite part was just having the opportunity to get to know great people on a deeper level. This trip really opened my eyes to how many incredible people are out there, and I felt so blessed to get to that experience with such a special group. I think you would get a similar experience on many of OG's...


10 Rating
based on 3 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Impact 7.7
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
Sarah Cagnion
Yes, I recommend this program

Friendship in Flux

I was drawn to this trip because I was craving experiences with a greater sense of adventure and authenticity. Naturally, I entered knowing that I would be challenged, but the experience itself would far surpass any of my expectations. Traveling with Operation Groundswell is unlike any other travel experience I have had. The way you are immersed in the culture extends beyond the food you eat, or attractions you visit, it is ingrained in everything you do. Our coerced initial discussions about consciences interactions and local politics quickly shifted to thoughtful conversation about solving problems on grassroots levels and utilizing privilege for good. We learned in ways that posed questions instead of preaching answers, and it lead me to a deeper broader understanding of other cultures as well as my own.

In regards to the fashion specific perspective of this trip, I will say that the issues we covered were much more human rights focused than textiles or industry focused. As a result, I think this trip can really be applicable to anyone regardless of their interest, or lack there of, in the fashion industry.
While we did spend a good amount of time exploring the practices of textile manufacturing at the Thanapara Swallows Development Society in the Bangladeshi countryside, much of that time felt more like a deeper observation of the culture rather than an sewing lesson. Much of the discussions took place from human rights and political perspectives rather than the perspective of the craft itself. That being said, one of my favorite things we did was take part in the natural dying process at Aranya, an all natural clothing and textiles line based in Dhaka. The founder, Ruby, was absolutely inspiring, and the dyed silks were beyond stunning.

From the welcoming nature of the Bangladeshi culture, to the stunning landscapes of the subcontinent, to the awesome people I got to spend two weeks with, in its entirety, this trip was an incredible reminder of how beautiful this world is. The topics are certainly heavy, and I left Bangladesh with more questions than answers, but I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to witness that amongst all of the darkness, there are so many incredible people in the world working selflessly to do amazing things for others.

2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


When I signed up for this trip, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never heard of Operation Groundswell and wasn't super knowledgeable or interested in fashion. Mostly the time of the trip worked well with my schedule, I was interested in this part of the world because I knew nothing about it, and OG looked like something I could get behind.

From the moment I stepped off the plane, my life was changed. Sounds cliche, but really, all of my pre-notions and perceptions were challenged and changed within hours of arriving. With not having any prior knowledge of OG and not knowing anyone on the trip, I was nervous about what to expect. But the trip leaders were so wonderful and made me feel comfortable and excited right away. Before even leaving the airport, I knew it was going to be a great trip.

I did not however expect how much it would impact me personally and challenge my own ways of thinking. The fashion industry and way of life in Bangladesh is much different than I had imagined. While complex and chaotic, I developed a deep appreciation for the people and skills behind it. Being a small group, we were able to get close with each other as well as with several of the people we had the privilege of meeting and interacting with.

My biggest takeaway from the trip was definitely how I view fashion and how I will choose support or not support it in the future. Even though the trip's focus was on fashion, I think it also changed how I view the world in a general sense and my place in it.

A tip for anyone interested in the trip, would be to go in with an open mind, prepare to be uncomfortable at times, and know that you don't have to have a career or even involvement in the fashion industry to go. I honestly wish everyone could go on this trip.

My favorite memories were our crazy market adventures, the food (always the food!), kitchen chats with the woman of the village, and our final few days in Cox's Bazar.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the volunteer part of the trip could be better organized in a way that would be more impactful.
1 person found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Exploring Bangladesh

Taking part in the Fashion in Flux program was a unique experience that I would highly recommend. Bangladesh is a country most people don't know much about, although "made in Bangladesh" tags are not uncommon in clothing stores; what this trip allows you to do is become conscious of all the lives involved behind the textile industry in Bangladesh while discovering the richness in culture, kindness and nature that is often overlooked. It is an eyeopening experience that will have an impact on its participants far beyond the couple of weeks spent there in many aspects of their lives.

1 person found this review helpful.