Saturday, June 13, 2020

Race and Sweat-shops

The fashion industry makes huge profits from the exploitation of black and brown women. Racism in fashion runs to the very core of the industry. It is the millions of black and brown people making our clothes in factories thousands of miles away who bear the heaviest burden.

The fast fashion industry has been reliant on the exploitation of garment workers since its conception. The UK spends billions on clothes every year and yet some garment workers only take home £20 a week.
Of the 74 million textile workers worldwide, 80% are women of colour
Brands have created a production model that keeps garment workers poor and working in unsafe conditions to maximise their own profits. The buying practices of fast fashion include turning a blind eye to illegal subcontracting and allowing forced and unpaid overtime. These practices have incentivised the erosion of garment worker rights by manufacturers and government. 
The economic exploitation that fast fashion is reliant upon is a legacy of colonialism. From the 1500s until the middle of the 20th century, European imperialism was a way to create extractive states and oppress non-white people. 
The legacies continue to this day. Western consumers want cheaper clothes and brands want to make larger profit margins. The knock-on injustices and exploitation in fashion’s supply chains are either accepted by consumers or obscured by conscious marketing campaigns peddling female empowerment.
With the Covid-19 epidemic  we have seen the fashion industry abandon these same workers. n many countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, brands are refusing to pay for billions of pounds worth of orders they had already placed with suppliers. What that means is manufacturers that purchased material destined for our high streets are now stuck with piles and piles of unwanted clothes. They are also unable to pay their workers. Hundreds of thousands of garment workers will lose their jobs because of this refusal to pay up.

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