The fashion industry has a lot of issues, and while some parts are being changed, there’s still a long way to go.
Two issues that have been on my mind a lot recently are the sweatshops and the level of waste the industry produces. This post is going to be about the use of sweatshops.
The global supply chain of the fashion industry is poorly regulated, leading to the exploitation of workers. Sweatshops violate labor laws in many developed countries, so many of them either operate illegally, or are in developing countries, where the labor laws are not enforced. These workers are not paid a living wage, forced to work extreme hours, and often in dangerous conditions. There are also many of these places that use child labor– this issue is self explanatory.
The factories tend to try to cut costs wherever and whenever they can, so these places have poor lighting, which can harm the worker’s eyes, and have other issues that are dangerous. For example, in 2013 the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,134 people and injuring about 2,500. The workers tried to tell the managers that they saw cracks in the building, and they were even given an evacuation order that was just ignored. This incident was preventable had the managers listened to their workers. I think the reason they didn’t do anything about it is because they didn’t want to stop production and have their buyers wait or find a new factory.
Many of these garment workers are essentially forced to work 12+ hours in order to satisfy the high demand of fast fashion… they can’t just quit and find a better job since the market for better pay is small, and they have families to feed.
Most fashion brands are not transparent about who makes your clothes and many of them are using these factories that completely violate human rights. Some brands have made a pledge to be more transparent in the future and stop using sweatshops; however, the problem still persists.
I will say, I have been more conscious about where I shop but sometimes I do still shop at questionable brands. It’s difficult because they’re everywhere. It’s important to just be mindful and support brands that pay their workers a living wage, and allow these brands to grow so more of these garment workers can be employed at places that actually pay them. It also would be beneficial to pressure big brands to ensure their workers at all levels get paid a living wage.
Fast fashion just isn’t it.