The fashion industry is notorious for exploitive labour practices. Though we have commended several entrepreneurs and businesses for leading the way with new and improved practices, these are simply voluntary codes. This means that the only consequence of not abiding by them is a tarnished reputation, and there are usually no legal repercussions.
So, what is the root of the problem?
The issue is that if brands take on the task of ending labour exploitation, the only means to bring about this change is if they take more control of their supply chains. However, this opens them up to increased legal liability and, as such, it is a big risk that many labels are imply unwilling to take on.
Therefore, real change should stem from the legislatures, rather than from the brands themselves. Existing labour law rules needs to be amended in order to bring about an incentive for brands to eradicate labour exploitation.
MM&D Magazine recently published a few examples that illustrate the the severity of this issue:
- “A recent report from Oxfam stated that garment workers earn as little as 2% of the price of clothing sold in Australia, even though it is a $27 billion industry.”
- “In early December, shoppers at a Zara store in Istanbul allegedly found messages in the clothing that garment workers had hidden in protest of unfair wages. The messages read ‘I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it’.”
- The Rana Plaza tragedy, which we wrote about earlier, “saw more than 1,000 people killed when a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed. This occurred more than four years ago”.
Unfortunately, the above examples do not even begin to cover the breadth of this issue. However, we thought you should know that brands should not assume the full responsibility for this problem.
Information accredited to MM&D Magazine.