Ethiopia Is The New Fast Fashion Capital

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 4 weeks ago | News

Image: inside a garment factory in Ethiopia. Image source

It’s not exactly news that conditions for garment workers are pretty sub-par across the globe, but according to a recently released report from the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, conditions in Ethiopia's garment sector are particularly bad. And unfortunately this African nation is shaping up to be the new fast fashion capital for retailers like H&M

The Fashion Law reports that Ethiopia’s burgeoning garment sector has become a popular manufacturing locale for fast fashion brands over recent years. Which is worrying, considering garment workers in the African nation are some of the “lowest paid in the world,” according to the new report.

Making around AUD $38 per month, these individuals are struggling to get by. "Workers, mostly young women from poor farming families, cannot afford decent housing, food, and transportation,” says the report’s authors Paul M. Barrett and Dr. Dorothee Baunmann-Pauly.

But Reuters reports that the local government has been actively courting global attention to and investment in its garment manufacturing sector over recent years, as retailers move out of China due to a rise in the cost of labour, raw materials and taxes. Which leaves Ethiopian garment workers vulnerable to becoming the latest victims in an industry-wide problem of systemic abuse. 

According to this report, the nation’s government has "identified apparel as an industry" in which it can thrive based on the success of "a number of other poor countries that have entered the sector [and had success] because of strong global demand for inexpensive clothes.” But this approach is only likely to perpetuate the vicious cycle of poor worker rights seen across the globe.

With Ethiopian workers already among the lowest paid in the world and this nation now looking to boost its $145 million industry into one that's worth $30 billion, Barrett and Baunmann-Pauly predict that “the path for workers will not be smooth.” 

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