Today the fashion industry is saturated with terms such as fair fashion, ethical fashion, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, and much more. But what do these terms actually mean, and how are they different? In order to have a positive impact on the fashion industry, it’s important to understand how it operates at a social and human level.
Healthy and Safe Working Conditions
If you want to purchase ethical clothing, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the human rights and safety of the people making the garments. Despite many international standards, safety codes, and government legislative motions, workers are often caught working in bad conditions in unsafe buildings. One of the most infamous examples of this is the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, where an eight story building collapsed killing over 1,000 people. After the collapse many brands signed an accord committing to essential safety renovations, but many factories still don’t meet basic safety requirements. Check this list to see how your favourite brands stack up in terms of worker safety.
No Child Labour
Many people are unaware of the frightening fact that approximately 36 million people are living in modern slavery today, many of whom are working in the fashion industry. Regulations in countries like India and Vietnam are not very strictly regulated and therefore there is a high risk of child labour in these countries. In all stages of the supply chain children are being negatively affected, all so fashion companies can produce cheap clothing. This leads to low education rates, furthering the cycle of poverty.
Paying workers less than a living wage is denying a basic human right. Even though the fashion industry is a billion dollar one, many garment workers worldwide and overworked and underpayed. Many don’t even make a living wage. Sometimes only a few percent of an item of clothing’s final price makes up the worker’s wages. Women are especially affected by this, as they are often supporting children alongside other duties.