The images coming out of Bangladesh are heart-breaking.
And the search footage they’ve been showing on the news is harrowing. It makes you feel powerless.
Plus, this Bangladesh news comes right on the heels of the story about Zara using slave labour, which came 2 years after a story…accusing Zara of using slave labour. They obviously don’t care.
And why should they? They’re heaped with admiring comments, not just from fashion blogs, but from journalists in the NYTimes.
I know consumers can exert pressure on companies, but could brands like Zara and Primark even operate without cut-price labour? Their whole business model is built on it.
My wardrobe is never going to be entirely hand-made. I buy high street clothes. And even if I didn’t, I’d be involved. I have no idea where most of my fabric came from. The cotton could have been picked by forced labour in Uzbekistan. It’s so hard to keep track of everything.
As home-sewers, we know how much work goes into a garment. However complicated a clothing supply chain gets, we know that at the end of it there are people, not just machines.
And that $1.14, divided between seven of those people, is not enough pay for making a pair of jeans.
The only ray of hope (if you can call it that) is that the Bangladesh tragedy is getting a lot of press attention. And the press is linking the disaster with the clothing industry in a way I’ve not seen before.
The BBC even recorded this video asking people if they knew where their clothes were made (non-spoiler: nobody did).
The tangible things I can think of doing are:
- Donate to Anti-Slavery International. They are the only UK charity campaigning to stop slave labour. Their magazine is how I found out about the forced labour in the cotton fields in Uzbekistan.
- Talking about the issue and try and keep it in the news (hence this post).
I don’t know what I can do apart from that and I feel pretty helpless.
Some resources I found:
– The author of Overdressed, a book about the rise of cheap clothing, has a list of actions you can take here.
– The Guardian have an ethical fashion directory here