Fashion

Ask the question - who is making my clothes?

2023 marks 10 years since the terrible tragedy at the Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh, when an eight-story building collapsed, killing 1132 people and injuring 2500. Most of the dead and injured were poorly paid female garment makers, producing many of the clothes that end up in Australia. Since then some of the big brand companies have worked to ensure conditions have improved. Others have not. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Chances are that children and adults working in sweatshops, for little money and often in appalling and hazardous conditions, make some of the clothes you wear, or clothes you might want to buy next time you go shopping.

 

Ask the question – how does my favourite clothing brand company treat workers?

Be an Agent of Change in 2023

As consummers we can help make a difference in the lives of those being exploited in the fashion industry. Here are some suggested actions you can take.

A. Speak Out

Speak Out is the message of the 2022 Baptist World Aid (BWA) Ethical Fashion Report. The report’s authors are demanding fashion brands ‘escalate action to address modern slavery, worker exploitation and unsustainable environmental practices throughout their supply chains’. The call to consumers to Speak Out comes after the report revealed:

  • Just 10 per cent of fashion brands pay a living wage at any factories in the final stage of the supply chain.
  • Fashion companies average just 29 out of 100 on the ethical supply chain benchmark.
  • 40 per cent of companies don’t know who supplies their raw materials and have no project to trace them.
  • New to the report in 2022, footwear brands performed well below industry average (23/100). None of the footwear companies pay a living wage at any stage of their supply chain.

The report states that, “millions of workers in the global fashion industry face injustice, abuse, low wages, and modern slavery. The way we produce clothes and shoes—and the endless demand for more—is having a detrimental impact on local communities, their lands and waterways, and even the air they breathe. While the industry is responsible for up to ten per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it’s a problem that affects us all. So we’re lifting the lid on what’s happening in the supply chains of the biggest fashion brands, to create momentum for change.”

Download the the guide or obtain the full report.

Speak Out to brands: Pleased with your favourite brand? Disappointed? Let them and your network know—good or bad.

  1. Go to the Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Report site: https://baptistworldaid.org.au/resources/ethical-fashion-guide/
  2. Scroll down to Find Your Favourite Brands and fill in a brand you’d like to investigate
  3. Select that brand to find out their score in 2022, click on the brnad name next to its score and send off the pre-written message to this brand asking them to lift their game.

B. What She Makes Campaign

Did you know the women who make our clothes aren’t paid enough to escape poverty. No matter how hard they work, they can’t afford basic food and shelter for their families — wages are just too low. A life of poverty can leave people vulnerable to human trafficking and slavery. Learn more by viewing the What She Makes video.

Stand in solidarity with the woman who make our clothes. Join the OXFAM led campaign to let big brands know loud and clear that the women working in their factories, making my clothes must be paid a living wage. A living wage is a wage that is sufficient for workers to be able to provide food, water, shelter, clothing, healthcare and education for themsleves and their dependents. Receiving a living wage could change the lives of people who are trapped in poverty. Find out who is paying a living wage to workers by using the Company Tracker.

 

C. Join the #whomademyclothes Fashion Revolution

The Rana Plaza tragedy also triggered a fashion revolution around the world and you can join it today. Young people are using social media to demand #whomademyclothes. Fashion Revolution Week happens every year in the week surrounding the 24th of April, the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse. This week provides an opportunity to unite people from all over the world to use the power of fashion to improve conditions for the people who make the world’s clothes and accessories. Find out more about Fashion Revolution Week and how you can take action at https://www.fashionrevolution.org/

D. Share the story

Tell five other people what you have learned. Ask them to join one of the actions listed above. Share a post on social media about the action you are taking. Use the hashtag #fashion, #livingwage #WhoMadeMyClothes and don't forget to tag ACRATH.

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