Fast Fashion Always Has A Human Cost

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 6 months ago | News

Image: female garment workers in Bangladesh. Image source

Fast fashion may be cheap, but we need to remember that there is always a cost associated with producing this cheaply. That cost is often hidden and is, more often than not, a human cost. “While the cost of living has gone up in the past few decades, the cost of clothing has gone down,” writes Hiptipico. “How is this possible, you ask? Cheap female labour.”

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 throughout fashion supply chains.

Earlier this year, for example, garment workers from top global brands in Bangladesh made headlines 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 that employees at Topshop’s Leeds distribution centre were refusing to work in protest of the “meagre wages and exploitative contracts” utilised by the British fast fashion giant. More recently, 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 of 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 The Fashion Law. "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.”

So, although fast fashion might seem cheaper, there will always be a significant human cost at stake.

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