The fashion industry has never been on the top of my mind and here I am writing about it again. I don't really care about clothing or looking 'fashionable' - I want to be comfortable and able to wear my clothes for years.
But this post is more important than my lazy choice of clothing. I want to expand on my earlier blog on the #payup movement and the negative messaging around fast fashion brands.
Fashion companies have been hit hard by Covid-19. It's quite obvious that we don't need or want to buy new clothing right now and this is the reason that some 2 billion USD worth of clothing orders have been cancelled by major fashion brands. Most of this money would go towards factories in cities like Bangladesh, where the garment industry counts for 84% of the city's income. When major fashion brands don't pay up, factory owners can't pay their workers and this is why more than 4 million workers lost their jobs over the last two months.
These cancelled payments weren't the brands' payments for future services, because most brands pay their suppliers weeks or even months after delivery. Suppliers however often pay for the materials and workers upfront. So stopping these payments means that factories have had to lay off their workers and many ready to be shipped garments have nowhere to go. These 'unwanted' goods are being destroyed as we speak. This in turn - especially if the garments are made of polyester - is taking a huge toll on the environment.
It feels very unjust that these big brands aren't taking responsibility for the impact they have on the people working in their supply chains. But the world is watching them. Movements have started to save unwanted garments and pressure is being put on big brands to #payup. Follow @fashionunited and @fashionrevolution for daily updates, have your voice heard with @labourbehindthelabel and make an order with @Loststock to help laid off workers in cities like Bangladesh - I've ordered mine three weeks ago.
Let me get into the details for you: Primark has promised to #payup, but has only set up a relief fund which will be nowhere near the $273 million USD they owe. All the while, they are posting that they "are a brand for everyone. We want to use our platform to help support positive change. To all of our customers, our colleagues and their loved ones - we see you, we hear you and we are with you.”
H&M is also posting ‘let’s change’, saying they "believe in equal rights for everyone. We stand with and support the Black community – today and every day.” H&M have responded to the Pay Up movement and have announced they will pay up, without actually making any payments so far. The same counts for Fashion Nova, Forever21, Gap, Topshop and many others.
This hell never seems to be ending. Garment workers in India, Cambodia and Myanmar are demonstrating in protest to their horrible treatment. Not only have millions of people been fired without severance pay or any type of financial safety net, the few still working are doing so in unsafe social distancing situations. The factory owners are using Covid-19 as a cover for actively laying off union members as they fear they'll need to give in to their demands for the workers' rights. It's even going so far as to sending garment workers to prison for speaking up.
This is how a young single mother of two, named Soy Sros, ended up in a prison cell for 55 days with 70 other women - a filthy cell that's about 10 by 20 meters and included only one toilet, without any respect for social distancing or quarantining during the height of the coronavirus. Sros' union, with the help of non-profit organisations Clean Clothes Campaign and Worker Rights Consortium, pleaded with the luxury brands hiring that factory to step up, but Micheal Kors, Jimmi Choo, Versace and others remain silent.
So I say: let's call these brands out and boycott them! Who the f*ck needs a £700 purse made by a woman earning £0.25 per day anyway? Absolute disgrace.