Fast Fashion Supply Chains Are Full Of Exploitation

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

Image: garment workers protest after Rana Plaza. Image source.

It has been more than six years since the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse claimed the lives of more than 1,100 garment worker in Bangladesh – yet human rights violations still remain rife right throughout fashion industry supply chains.

As The Fashion Law points out, garment workers from top global brands in Bangladesh made headlines earlier this year, after clashing with police in a weeks-long strike over low wages. Two years before that, Turkish workers in a factory for Zara left tags inside their garments that read: “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.”

This news followed reports of employees at Topshop’s Leeds distribution centre refusing to work in protest of the “meagre wages and exploitative contracts” utilised by the British fast fashion giant. And even more recently than all of this, a US-based organisation called Workers Rights Consortium published a report, which alleged that “gender-based violence and harassment” is still taking place across three factories in Lesotho, Southern Africa. 

What all this shows is that fashion supply chains are still full of exploitation – and this is particularly prevalent across the fast fashion sector. As a traditionally opaque industry, fashion is unfortunately still seriously lacking in terms of transparency. "Generally, a brand is only legally responsible for the actions of suppliers if the brand directly employs and controls that supplier," writes TFL. "In a global value chain, most suppliers are typically outside of the brand’s direct control, operating, instead, as contractors and in many cases, even subcontractors, the latter of which are more often than not completely undocumented, as they tend to work from their homes."

But true transparency requires much more nuance than this. So, until fast fashion brands start actually taking transparency seriously, fashion supply chains will be full of exploitation.

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