The Case for Shared Responsibility During Black Friday 
This is a guest blog written by Taylor Brydges, UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures and Mary Hanlon, Okanagan College. 


Amid Black Friday buzz and the allure of tempting discounts, the hunt for the latest fashion trends at ever-lower prices intensifies, especially with the upcoming holiday season and escalating living costs. As consumers eagerly navigate the sea of promotions, it’s essential to pause before clicking “Buy Now” and consider the origin of the clothing. As the world’s second-largest producer of fashion and apparel products, dominating 84% of the country’s total exports, the “Made in Bangladesh” label will likely feature prominently on the clothes on offer.

While the excitement of Black Friday builds, the streets of Bangladesh echo with a different narrative, as thousands of garment workers have been fervently rallying for an overdue increase in their legal minimum wage. These workers, without wage increases since 2018, have been calling for an increase to the minimum wage, challenging the concession of 12,500 taka (USD 113) the government has offered.

Companies producing fashion and apparel products in Bangladesh have come under pressure for failing to support workers in this struggle, as labour organisers are calling on brands to step up, where the government is seen to have failed. Even as some brands have called on the government to support the living wage, pressures on brands are mounting.

As tensions continue to grow, it is likely that so will the numerous articles and campaigns offering consumers quick tips on how to navigate their purchasing practices come Black Friday. Some might name and shame the brands, while others might rank them based on their engagement with policies and programs that support social and environmental sustainability more broadly.

While consumers can indeed play a pivotal role in shaping market trends, driving brands towards voluntary so-called compliance initiatives, we argue that the core of the change required to support worker rights rests not with consumers alone but also with governments and the broader fashion industry, promoting stringent labour regulations and industry-wide commitments.

As workers bargain for better wages and consumers bargain for better discounts, a collective responsibility emerges–one which requires consumers, the fashion industry, and Western governments alike to champion worker safety, responsible fashion, and ethical apparel production in Bangladesh and beyond.

In a recent article published in the Canadian Political Science Review, we utilise the concept of ‘fashion diplomacy,’ advocating its potential as a transformative tool for labour rights and responsible fashion practices. We argue that Western governments must synchronise their domestic and international policies and address systemic challenges within the global fashion industry.

Zooming in on countries importing fashion and apparel products from Bangladesh, for example, Bangladesh, we underscore a shared responsibility between governments and businesses that claim to support labour rights. While consumer pressure on brands aligns with an eagerness to aid workers, we argue that government policies are pivotal in steering the systemic change the industry needs.

While we see brands as crucial stakeholders, government mandates to support workers through safe conditions, fair wages, and ethical practices across supply chains are essential. Instead of shifting costs onto workers, brands must be held accountable for supporting more sustainable and equitable labour practices. The fight for a living wage is an ethical imperative that only propels the fashion industry toward prioritising worker well-being and ecosystem sustainability.

Consumers can support this transition and evolve their concerns into actions by educating themselves about garment worker challenges and the environmental impacts of the fashion industry. Consumers can advocate on behalf of garment workers by vocalising support for fair labour practices and responsible fashion–especially where worker voices have been systematically silenced and ignored.

This collective call to action transcends ethical shopping—it’s a call for consumers to raise their voices, demand systemic change and hold governments and the fashion industry accountable for worker well-being and industry sustainability.


Take action!

Use social media to demand that brands stand in solidarity with the people who make their clothes and support the minimum wage increase in Bangladesh

Use our template to email a brand and ask #WhoMadeMyClothes?

Join the OR Foundation and call on brands to #SpeakVolumes about their production volumes




Header photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash
Fashion Revolution Week 2023 Roundup

Fashion Revolution Week is our annual campaign bringing together the world’s largest fashion activism movement for seven days of action. It centres around the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed around 1,138 people and injured many more on 24 April 2013. 

This year, as we marked the tenth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, we remembered the victims, survivors and families affected by this preventable tragedy and continue to demand that no one dies for our fashion. To define the next decade of change, we translated our 10-point Manifesto into action for a safe, just and transparent global fashion industry. Our campaign platformed the work of our diverse Global Network who provided local interpretations of their chosen Manifesto point(s). We believe that while fashion has a colossal negative impact, it also has the power and the potential to be a force for change. Together, we expanded the horizons of what fashion could – and should – be.

Here, catch up on some of the week’s highlights and find out how to stay involved with our work, all year round.


Remembering Rana Plaza

Fashion Revolution Week happens every year in the week coinciding with April 24th, the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster. On April 24th 2013, the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh collapsed in a preventable tragedy. More than 1,100 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. On April 24th, we paused all other campaigning to pay our respects to the victims, survivors and families affected by this tragedy, and came together as a global community to remember Rana Plaza.

As we reflect a decade on, we are inspired by and celebrate the progress made in the Bangladesh Ready-made Garment (RMG) sector by the Accord. The International Accord on Fire and Building Safety was the first legally-binding brand agreement on worker health and safety in the fashion industry and is the most important agreement to keep garment workers safe to date. This year, we pay tribute to the joint efforts of all Accord stakeholders who have significantly contributed to safer workplaces for over 2 million garment factory workers in Bangladesh, including the Bangladeshi trade unions representing garment workers, alongside Global Union Federations and labour rights groups. We welcome the introduction of the Pakistan Accord and would like to see the adoption and success of the International Accord replicated in all garment producing countries.

Read more here.

Manifesto for a Fashion Revolution

Our theme for Fashion Revolution Week 2023 was Manifesto for a Fashion Revolution. Back in 2018, we created a 10-point Manifesto that solidifies our vision to a global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit. This year we called on citizens, brands and makers alike to sign their name in support of turning these demands into a reality, boosting our signature count to 15,500 Fashion Revolutionaries and counting. We are immensely grateful to everyone who has and continues to sign; our power is in our number and each signature strengthens our collective call to revolutionise the fashion industry.

To campaign for systemic change in the fashion industry, we themed the week around complementary Manifesto points, providing ways to be curious, find out and do something daily around each of them. From supply chain transparency to living wages, textile waste to cultural appropriation, freedom of association to biodiversity, we shared global perspectives and solutions to fashion’s most pressing social and environmental problems.

Over the past ten years, the noise around sustainable fashion has only got louder. But meanwhile, real progress is too slow in the context of the climate crisis and rising social injustice. That’s why Fashion Revolution Week 2023 was an action-packed and future-focused campaign that amplified the actions and perspectives of Fashion Revolutionaries around the world.



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Global Conversations

To capture these global perspectives, we launched the Fashion Revolution Map on Earth Day, which coincided with the start of Fashion Revolution Week. Developed by Talk Climate Change, the Map served as a global forum to reflect on the week’s themes and events, using our Manifesto as a talking point. Fashion Revolutionaries continued the discussion offline by inviting their family, friends, colleagues and classmates to imagine what a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry would look like with us. These conversations were then recorded on the Map as a source of inspiration and knowledge exchange. 

Anyone can be a Fashion Revolutionary; it starts with a simple dialogue about the changes you want to see in the fashion industry. Make your voice heard by contributing to our map today and help change the fashion industry through the power of conversation!



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Good Clothes, Fair Pay Highlights

Ten years on from Rana Plaza, poverty wages remain endemic to the global garment industry. Most of the people who make our clothes still earn poverty wages while fashion brands continue to turn huge profits. At Fashion Revolution, we believe there is no sustainable fashion without fair pay which is why we launched Good Clothes, Fair Pay as part of a wider coalition last July. The Good Clothes Fair Pay campaign demands living wage legislation at EU level for garment workers worldwide, building on Manifesto points 1 and 2.

During Fashion Revolution Week, our EU teams coordinated awareness events, campaigns and marches to mobilise signatures for this campaign. On April 25th, we headed to the European Parliament with Fashion Revolution Belgium to demand better legislation in the fashion industry. The day of action consisted of a panel discussion between Members of the European Parliament and impacted fashion stakeholders, and ended with a stunt outside the Parliament. Fashionably Late highlighted that the EU is running out of time to act on poverty wages in fashion. This stunt was replicated by our teams in Germany, France and the Netherlands throughout Fashion Revolution Week to demonstrate EU-wide solidarity with the people who make our clothes.

We have less than three months left to collect 1 million signatures from EU citizens to push for legislation that requires companies to conduct living wage due diligence in their supply chains, irrespective of where their clothes are made. If you are an EU citizen, sign your name here. If you’re unable to sign, please support the campaign by sharing it far and wide online.


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Fashion Revolution Open Studios Highlights

Fashion Revolution Open Studios is Fashion Revolution’s showcasing and mentoring initiative since 2017. Through exhibitions, presentations, talks, and workshops with emerging designers, established trailblazers and major players, we celebrate the people, products and processes behind our clothes. 

This Fashion Revolution Week, Fashion Revolution Open Studios joined forces with Small but Perfect to spotlight the work of 28 European SMEs taking part in their circularity accelerator project. Forming part of this European events programme, Fashion Revolution Open Studios held a two-day event in partnership with The Sustainable Angle and at The Lab E20. The event showcased seven innovative designers from the Small But Perfect cohort of sustainable SMEs and displayed how they are embedding circular solutions into their work, from crafting grape leather handbags to developing community approaches to making and working together. Alongside the exhibition, there were livestreamed webinars, workshops and panel discussions to explore the projects and hear about some of the the challenges facing small businesses and the industry at large in switching to circular business models.


Global Network Highlights

With 75+ teams from all around the world, Fashion Revolution Week 2023 championed the perspectives and contributions of our Global Network. Here are just a small selection of highlights from our country teams:

Fashion Revolution New Zealand unpacked each Manifesto point with industry trailblazers in an Instagram Live series.

Fashion Revolution teams in Bangladesh and Sweden co-organised a virtual panel discussion on shifting consumer behaviour.

Fashion Revolution Singapore celebrated the launch of their digital zine MANIFESTO.

Fashion Revolution teams in Iran and Germany collaborated on Women, Life, Freedom, a joint exhibition.

Fashion Revolution Nigeria shared the stories and journeys of local slow fashion brands.

Fashion Revolution Argentina invited us to join their Wikipedia edit-a-thon.

Fashion Revolution teams in Vietnam, South Africa and Scotland hosted local community clothing swaps.

Fashion Revolution India won the Elle Sustainability Award for Eco-Innovation in Fashion.

Fashion Revolution Uganda brought together the country’s top designers and brands at Kwetu Kwanza.

Fashion Revolution teams in UAE and Canada both held local design competitions for students.

Fashion Revolution Hungary championed the revival of traditional folklore practices in clothing and fashion.

Fashion Revolution USA discussed the fashion industry’s impact on people and planet in a 2-part Zoom series.

Fashion Revolution Uruguay hosted Fashion Celebrates Life, a community picnic themed around Manifesto point 10.

Fashion Revolution teams in Chile and Portugal shared their Fashion Revolution Week highlights with us on Instagram Live.


You are Fashion Revolution

We are so grateful to everyone in our community for getting involved in Fashion Revolution Week on social media and beyond. Every single voice makes a difference in our fight for a fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit.

While Fashion Revolution Week 2023 may be over, our community, our campaigning and our movement continues, 365 days a year. Please join us in fighting for systemic change by:

Following us on social media: Stay up-to-date by following us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn and YouTube, and signing up to our weekly newsletter.

Finding your country team: Connect with the teams in your region by following them online, attending their events and volunteering with them. Find your country team here.

Using our online resources: Our website is a treasure trove of information, from how to guides and online courses to annual reporting on transparency on the fashion industry. Get started here.

From all of us in the Fashion Revolution team, we appreciate your support and we look forward to seeing you next year!

Good Clothes, Fair Pay: Demand a living wage for the people who make our clothes

Good Clothes, Fair Pay is our new campaign demanding living wage legislation across the garment, textile and footwear sector. We need 1 million signatures from EU citizens over the next 12 months to push for legislation that requires companies to conduct living wage due diligence in their supply chains.

Millions of people work in textile, clothing and footwear production around the world. The vast majority are not paid enough to fulfil their basic needs.These people remain trapped in poverty while big fashion companies continue to profit from their hard work. It is a deeply unfair and exploitative system, and we must demand better. The Covid-19 pandemic has deepened wage insecurity for the people who make our clothes, leaving workers without any social safety net, struggling to pay for food, healthcare and shelter.

This is why Good Clothes Fair Pay is calling on the European Commission to introduce legislation requiring that brands and retailers in the garment sector conduct specific due diligence in their supply chain to ensure workers are paid living wages.

The European Citizens’ Initiative is a unique instrument enabling citizens to call on EU policymakers to propose legislation in an area of EU competence. The campaign must collect at least 1 million signatures from EU citizens to reach the European Commission. You can read the full legal proposal here.

The scope covers brands and retailers who want to trade in the EU, independently of whether they are based in the EU or elsewhere. It calls on brands and retailers to put in place, implement, monitor, and publicly disclose a time-bound and target-bound plan to close the gap between actual and living wages.

It puts a particular emphasis on requiring brands to identify risk groups that are particularly hard hit by low wages, such as women and migrant workers. Our proposal includes measures such as the companies’ pricing, costing and overall purchasing practices, ensuring that workers do not have to rely on excessive overtime to meet their basic needs.

This legislation would be the first living wage legislation at the EU level for garment workers worldwide. Better laws and regulations in Europe can make sure that companies all over the world do their part in ensuring that the workers in their supply chains are paid fairly.



Anyone with an EU passport can sign, no matter where you live in the world. If you are not an EU citizen, for example if you are a British national and no longer qualify since Brexit, you can still help us reach our goal of one million signatures by sharing our content on social media and telling your family, friends and colleagues. Click here to send a tweet now or download our campaign materials.

How Fashion Brands Can Take Action on Social Sustainability

This is a guest blog post by Fair Wear Foundation, an independent multi-stakeholder organisation that works with brands, workers and industry influencers to improve labour conditions in garment factories.

Being a Fair Wear member brand means that you take the social side of sustainability seriously. Our members are going above and beyond the industry norm to improve working conditions at their suppliers’ factories. We are proud of our members and their ongoing commitment to improving the lives of garment workers worldwide. 

To support and guide our members’ efforts, we conduct an annual Brand Performance Check. The check is a tool to evaluate and publicly report on the Human Rights Due Diligence efforts of Fair Wear’s member brands. The results enable us to track brand progress over time and measure how well brands have assessed, identified, and resolved issues with their suppliers in the past year. It also always brings up noteworthy and commendable examples of good practices that can act as inspiration for other brands in the industry. Here are some steps that brands can take to make their supply chain more ethical and socially sustainable:

1. Sign the Accord

The international Accord is a legally binding agreement between global union federations and brands. It was created after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013. When companies sign on to the Accord, they agree to continue working to make Bangladesh factories safer. Their factories then automatically fall under the follow up of the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC). 

“Since the formation of the Accord, we have made a tremendous improvement in the RMG (ready-made garment industry) in Bangladesh. I strongly feel the efforts need to be continued for maintaining the standard already achieved by the Bangladesh factories,” Bablur Rahman, Country Manager Bangladesh, Fair Wear Foundation.

If brands sign on to the Accord, they will need to follow up with their suppliers to make sure that inspections are happening, remediation is taking place, and that the factories also cooperate with the workplace programs. The more brands that sign can hence with their collective leverage make certain that their suppliers are taking steps to improve safety at the factories, and we don’t see a repetition of the Rana Plaza disaster in the future.

2. Set Prices that Enable a Living Wage

At Fair Wear, we define a living wage as a wage that meets the basic need of workers and their families for a standard working week and provide some discretionary income (savings). It is crucial that trade unions and worker representatives are involved in deciding what the living wage should be for a given region or factory. Living is a human right.

“What is important to understand is that brands don’t pay wages, brands pay prices, and factories pay wages. During the pandemic, Fair Wear brands supported its suppliers by staying in close contact with them and monitoring their needs and how they could support those needs. For example, pre-financing their orders in full,” Paula de Beer, Living Wage Officer, Fair Wear Foundation.

Fair Wear developed a user-friendly web-based application called Fair Price, a tool that facilitates fact-based costing and shared responsibility between buyers and suppliers to ensure prices sufficiently cover all labour expenses, including when wages are raised. By working with the Fair Price app with its suppliers, brands can take responsibility for ensuring their prices are sufficient and enable their suppliers to pay a living wage. 

3. Make Purchasing Practices Part of Responsible Business Practice 

Responsible purchasing practice is when you as a buyer know that anything you buy, the worker who made the clothes is respected and is getting a dignified life. To be able to ask the question, am I contributing to the rights of the workers in the production. Responsible purchasing practices are related to human rights due diligence (HRDD). 

“HRDD is about making sure that your processes and organisation are structured and taking steps so that the human rights of the workers in your supply chain are respected. This is something that both large and small to medium enterprises are expected to work on HRDD,” Mariette van Amstel, Head of Partnerships, Fair Wear Foundation.

Responsible purchasing practices include production planning and the prices you pay if the brand is aware of the risks in the sourcing countries and its factories. There are some purchasing practices we think every brand should strive to achieve. For example, when sourcing at a new factory, do research into the materials, how they treat human rights, and if there is a willingness to improve. Another would be to is if there is a situation where workers are not receiving the legal minimum wage, there we expect, regardless of the brand’s size, to take direct action to make sure at least the legal minimum wage is paid to workers.

4. Establish Strong Social Dialogue Structures

Social dialogue can sound like a lofty concept, but in reality, it’s simple. It’s the process of workers and their representatives and their employers discussing and negotiating the conditions of work. It is a place for workers to have a collective voice in expressing their needs.

Covid 19 especially highlighted the need for strong social dialogues structures, which is essential normally. Social dialogue helps avoid disruptive and costly conflicts by involving workers in organisational change and raising workers’ voices. A stronger business emerges when workers and management work together.

Good Clothes, Fair Pay: Demand a living wage for the people who make our clothes

Millions of people – mostly women – work in textile, clothing and footwear production around the world. The vast majority are not paid enough to fulfil their basic needs. 

Many people who make our clothes earn less than what they need to live on. They remain trapped in poverty while big fashion companies continue to profit from their hard work. It is a deeply unfair and exploitative system, and we must demand better. The Covid-19 pandemic has deepened wage insecurity for the people who make our clothes, leaving workers without any social safety net, struggling to pay for food, healthcare and shelter. 

This is why we are working on a new campaign to demand legislation that helps achieve living wages for textile and garment workers around the world. This is what we are asking the EU to do with Good Clothes Fair Pay, a European Citizens’ Initiative for living wages in the fashion supply chain.


The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI)

An ECI is a unique European Union mechanism aimed at increasing direct democracy by enabling EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies. It enables EU citizens to call directly on the European Commission to propose a directive or regulation, provided they are able to present 1 million signatures from citizens from at least one quarter of Member States.

Our proposal calls on the European Commission to introduce legislation requiring that companies conduct specific due diligence measures in their supply chain to ensure workers are paid living wages. The scope is on companies who sell their products to the EU market. It calls for measures including that companies’ pricing, costing and overall purchasing practices support living wages.

It calls on companies to put in place, implement, monitor, and publicly disclose a time-bound and target-bound plan to close the gap between actual and living wages. It puts a particular emphasis on requiring companies to identify risks regarding groups that are particularly hard hit by low wages, such as women and migrant workers.

Specifically, the legislation must require clothing companies to conduct due diligence on living wages by doing the following:

Better laws and regulations in Europe can make sure that companies all over the world do their part in ensuring that the workers in their supply chains are paid fairly.

The momentum required to support fairer supply chains at EU level has never been greater. The European Commission has committed to introducing mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation compelling companies to take action in their supply chains. The ECI also builds on and aligns with other policy instruments such as the proposed EU Minimum Wage Directive, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, the ILO MNE Declaration and the forthcoming EU strategy for sustainable textiles.

The coalition and timeline

A broad coalition of partnering organisations was forged in Summer 2021 in preparation for the European Commission to approve the ECI and the campaign to launch across Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Spain and the Netherlands in Spring 2022.

The project was initiated by ASN Bank, one of the largest sustainability-driven banks in the Netherlands, and coordinated by Fashion Revolution, a global fashion activism movement. It has also received funding from the Laudes Foundation and is supported by Lara Wolters MEP, Fair Wear Foundation, Fashion Revolution, Solidaridad Network, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Matrix Chambers, Fair Wage Network, The Circle and Human Rights Watch. Further support and expertise is provided by Dutch trade union CNV International and legal experts on EU civil law and ECI legislation.

This will be the single biggest EU campaign on living wages in the garment sector to date. If successful, the legislation will be a groundbreaking step in building a fairer fashion system where brands are held accountable for the people who make their clothes. We believe that proactive policy like this is crucial for safeguarding millions of workers in the fashion supply chain, and that the EU can lead the way for positive change.


Find out more and get involved

A Major Win for U.S. Garment Workers–And What’s Next

The Garment Worker Protection Act, also known as SB62, was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom late September. The new landmark law will bring much needed reforms to California’s fashion industry and has the potential to impact the future of fashion on a national and global scale. 

With SB62’s historic passage, California will now prohibit the use of the piece-rate system, as the main form of pay, an industry-wide practice of paying workers by the number of garment units produced or operations completed. Reports have shown that garment workers compensated through piecework are significantly underpaid and overworked, earning as little at $2.68 per hour and an average wage of $5.85.1 Under the new law, workers are ensured fairer wages and guaranteed a minimum hourly wage. Piece rate is still allowed as a bonus incentive on top of the hourly rate, to incentivize productivity, and for workers organized under a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Most notably, the Garment Worker Protection Act holds fashion brands and companies jointly and severally liable for wage violations. This joint liability provision of the bill – and perhaps the most revolutionary and controversial aspect – extends liability to the upper echelons of the supply chain. Fashion companies, not just the factories, manufacturers, or subcontractors, can be held liable for unpaid wages. This type of legal liability for fashion brands has never been implemented anywhere in the state of California.

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The fight for SB62 to become law has been a long journey, and its passage is a historic win for the labor justice movement. The bill failed  in the previous legislative session, and this year, opposition and certain business groups came out swinging and branded the bill as a “job killer.” But for many garment workers, the Garment Worker Protection Act was a call for justice, dignity, and a better future. 

Maria Del Carmen, an organizer and worker-leader with the Garment Worker Center (GWC), a worker rights group that led the charge to pass SB62, stated:

After 30 years in garment, I am fighting for SB62. We want the law to pass to hold brands accountable and so that all garment workers can live with dignity. This law would have the impact on my life of getting out of extreme poverty.”  

Maribel Alvarado, another organizer and worker-leader from the GWC also stated: 

“This law would make me very happy not just for me but for all the people coming [into the industry] after me. First because SB62 would end the wage theft of minimum wage, second because it will help to respect our rights, and third because we will be heard!”

Garment Worker Center (GWC) member-organizers Maria Del Carmen and Maribel Alvarado joined the GWC to fight wage theft and other labor violations they and thousands of other garment workers experience daily while working in this sector. Understanding the root cause of their exploitation led them to organize and participate in campaigns for brand accountability and policy changes like SB62. This worker-led campaign inspired organizations and communities across the fashion industry and brought allies from all different sectors to join their efforts, gaining support from immigrant, religious, union, business, and policy and legal groups, as well as fashion companies, businesses, creatives and designers.

Matthew DeCarolis, an attorney with the Employment Rights Project at Bet Tzedek, commented on how garment workers organized and campaigned for SB62:

“This started with the workers. Any change that happens starts at the grassroots level and starts with the workers themselves. The status quo was not acceptable, and the garment workers brought their causes to our elected officials. The substance of the bill came from them and their lived experiences.”

Despite being touted as a potential “job killer,” SB62 received tremendous support from businesses with over 150 ethical brands standing behind the bill. The new law will allow them to remain competitive in the industry. For many companies who have already been paying fairer wages, the Garment Worker Protection Act will help level the playing field against those who have been exploiting a broken system.

Bo Metz, Founder and Creative Director of Bomme Studio, a Los Angeles full-package clothing manufacturer, stated why fashion companies like Bomme Studio support the new law:

“It’s basic decency to treat others as you would like to be treated. Exploiting garment workers for ridiculous corporate margins is not sustainable and unethical. Enough is enough.”  

Regarding the future of sustainability and the fashion industry in California, Bo further stated: “Because of SB62, California now has a strong path to claiming the mantle as the number one most sustained apparel manufacturing hub.”

For many brands and companies, the new law will be a key piece to securing the fashion industry’s future in the state and forward into the 21st century. In addition to the garment sector, California’s fashion economy is linked to many adjacent industries and key sectors, all closely operated and located within the state and the city of Los Angeles. The state’s unique landscape, locale, and intersection of networks makes it a prime location for more circular economies and circular models of production.1

Matthew DeCarolis further provided: “There’s a reason why the garment manufacturing center is in LA. The skilled workforce, the garment workers are here. All the supply networks are here. It’s a landscape of relationships, as well as infrastructure, textiles, fabrics, business, and designers.”

With the passage of the new law, many businesses believe that the “Made in LA” and “Made in California” labels will also be revitalized. The existence of sweatshop labor and sweatshop wages in Los Angeles’s backyard tarnished the city’s reputation. SB62 will bring back business and consumer confidence in the “Made in LA” label. 

Christina Johnson, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Upcycle It Now, a Los Angeles design and manufacturing company, elaborated on SB62’s impact on the “Made in LA” and “Made in the USA” label:

“Customers can see quality differences in a product on a shelf but they can’t see if that product was sewn by an underpaid worker or not. They assume and trust that in the US there would be no way someone could experience the sweatshop working conditions from abroad. I feel SB62 was a way to bring awareness that even in the US there is wage theft and it also is a way to restore the trust we have that we don’t allow unfair practices flourish in the US.”

With the Garment Worker Protection Act taking effect this January 2022, its passage into law is a tremendous victory for the thousands of garment workers in Los Angeles, who are mostly women of color and immigrants. The law will help improve and transform their lives significantly.

Marissa Nuncio, Director at the Garment Worker Center, stated: 

With the passage of SB62, we’ve stood up and demanded corporate accountability from the fashion industry. Our world is changing in dramatic ways. Consumers and advocates know that sustainable, ethical business practices are non-negotiable at this point, and the passage of SB62 reflects that.”

Yet, even with the passage of SB62, there is still much work to be done to advance these protections and catalyze a more circular economy, in California and across the United States. Garment workers, advocacy groups and organizations in the fashion industry are already looking at how to stay organized after the passage of the new law. For instance, reforms are still needed with the Garment Restitution Fund, a fund that was established to help pay workers who were robbed of their wages. 

Joanne Brasch, a Special Projects Manager from the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) stated how SB62 could help move CA towards a more circular fashion economy:

“Policies that promote a circular economy bring skilled jobs to the growing reuse, repair, and recycling sectors and it’s important that workers handling the materials, be it manufacturing or waste management, are protected.”

A massive victory for the labor rights movement and the fashion accountability movement, SB62 will also send out a message to the rest of the fashion world – a story about workers’ rights, human dignity, and justice prevailing against big corporate interests. Bo from Bomme Studio added: “I think there is going to be a long period of education and training. While this is now law there will need to be work to change culture and staying organized will help us do that.”


  1. Garment Worker Center. (December 2020). Labor Violations in the Los Angeles Garment Industry.
¿Quién hizo mi ropa?: no nos olvidemos de Rana Plaza

La tragedia del edificio Rana Plaza, puso de manifiesto las precarias condiciones de trabajo en los países en desarrollo como Bangladesh, donde se fabrican las prendas de muchas de las multinacionales occidentales. Las “sweatshops”, talleres donde se realizan trabajos fuera de las convenciones internacionales, o sea, talleres de explotación laboral o de “trabajo esclavo” se han vuelto más comunes en la cadena de producción de nuestras prendas. 

Según la Wikipedia, el modelo conocido como “sweatshop” es frecuente y abundante en países en vías de desarrollo o del tercer mundo, y especialmente en Asia,  donde el trabajador recibe sueldos muy bajos (el equivalente a 3 euros al día, unos pocos céntimos la hora), manufacturando ropa, juguetes, calzado y otros bienes de consumo.

Somos conscientes desde hace décadas que la producción textil ha sido trasladada casi por completo a Asia, donde las condiciones laborales son casi inexistentes e incluso el Parlamento Europeo tacha de esclavitud laboral la situación actual. Trabajadoras acostumbradas a realizar 14/16h diarias, sin ningún día de descanso semanal, en condiciones mentales agotadoras y con muchísimos problemas a la hora de recibir su salario.

Este modelo fomenta la deslocalización de la producción ya que las grandes empresas, de manera habitual, subcontratan a otras empresas que ofrecen el menor costo posible, tercerizando la producción, perdiendo así el rastro y control de quienes realizan las prendas y en qué condiciones se han fabricado.

Rana Plaza

Hace 8 años, el edificio Rana Plaza de Bangladesh se derrumbó cobrándose la vida de más de 1.000 personas y dejando heridas a otras 2.500. La mayoría de las víctimas eran mujeres jóvenes que trabajaban fabricando ropa para algunas de las mayores marcas de moda del mundo. 

Foto de rijans vía flickr

Días antes de la tragedia, aparecieron grietas en las paredes del edificio y los trabajadores expresaron su temor. La dirección dijo a los trabajadores que volvieran al trabajo, incluso cuando las tiendas y bancos de la planta baja del mismo complejo habían cerrado. No fueron sólo los directivos, sino los plazos de entrega de pedidos y las cuotas de producción de las poderosas empresas los que hicieron que estos trabajadores tuvieran que volver al interior. Fue la insaciable industria de la moda la que obligó a estos trabajadores de la confección a seguir trabajando. Y fue la falta de representación sindical la que dejó a estos trabajadores impotentes para desafiar las órdenes.

Había 29 marcas identificadas entre los escombros. Algunas de ellas tardarían años en pagar las indemnizaciones. Para algunas familias, aportar pruebas de ADN para reclamar esa indemnización nunca será posible. A día de hoy, muchos de los supervivientes están desempleados y sufren graves traumas.

La trazabilidad en la cadena de la moda

La tragedia de Rana Plaza despertó el tema de la explotación de los trabajadores de la industria textil y también nos ha hecho pensar sobre la trazabilidad y lo importante que es conocer la historia, el Cuándo, Cómo y Dónde de cualquier producto en cualquier punto de la cadena de producto.

La trazabilidad es el conocimiento completo del conjunto de procesos de la producción de una prenda, incluidas las ubicaciones, los viajes y las personas que han trabajado para que ese producto llegue a nuestras manos.

Las grandes marcas producen una gran variedad de modelos a gran escala, así que cada pequeña parte proviene de una fábrica diferente, dificultando el control sobre la cadena de producción.

Si no sabemos de dónde vienen nuestros productos  no podemos mejorar el modo en que han sido producidas. Este es uno de los rectos para garantizar una moda más sostenible y justa.

Entonces, ¿qué puedo hacer?

En este reto os proponemos conocer un poco más sobre vuestra prenda favorita, ¿cuánto creeis que cobraríais vosotras por diseñar, coser o teñir vuestra prenda?, ¿cuánto creeis que cobran realmente cada una de las trabajadoras que hay detrás de ella?, ¿qué opinais al respecto?


En esta pregunta reside un gran problema, cada parte de tu prenda proviene de una fábrica diferente. Las grandes marcas tienen un gran número de proveedores para cada detalle, haciendo de cada prenda el trabajo de una cadena larguísima de personas. Fashion Revolution existe para garantizar que nunca más se produzca una tragedia de la magnitud de Rana Plaza, y no pararemos hasta que todas las prendas se fabriquen en condiciones en las que los trabajadores estén seguros, reciban un trato justo y estén libres de violencia de género o acoso.

Tú también puedes unirte a nuestra campaña en redes sociales compartiendo un selfie enseñando la etiqueta de tu prenda de ropa con el cartel ¿Quién hizo mi ropa?, compartirla en las redes sociales con los hashtags #QuienHizoMiRopa, y etiquetándonos: @fash_revspain.

Llegó el momento de empoderarnos a nosotros mismos. Empecemos a buscar alternativas que además de saciar nuestra necesidad de creatividad, no tengan repercusiones negativas en el entorno, ni apoyen a empresas que fomenten un mundo en el que miles de personas carecen de posibilidad para expresarse como individuos libres y únicos, ni poder aspirar a nada más que ser trabajadores en una ecuación heredada por nacimiento.

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The fashion industry needs to break with its gender and women’s rights problems

1%: this equals the percentage of the 250 biggest clothing brands that publish data on the prevalence of gender-based violations in their supplier facilities. It shows the lack of support of women, especially female garment workers and women of colour, and their rights in the fashion industry. Today, on International Women’s Day, it’s time for the industry and policy makers to acknowledge this and to finally act upon it. 


Gender inequalities in the fashion supply and production chains

There are approximately 40 to 60 million garment workers in the world today and millions more in other parts of the supply chain, in cotton fields and stores. The majority of those workers are women, thus representing the backbone of an industry worth almost $3 (€2.5) trillion per year today. In the majority of cases, garment workers are paid too low wages to have a decent living, they are subject to countless human rights violations and forced to work overtime in unsafe working conditions. The women behind our clothes face gender-based violence in order to survive and feed their families. Factories often deny their right to maternity leave or child care, and sexual abuse and harrassement in their workplace as well as on their way to work, is commonplace.

Gender wage gap and sticky floor

Despite women representing the majority of textile workers, gender-based wage discrimination happens on a wide scale.  According to a 2019 report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), who has investigated the garment sector in nine countries in Asia, the average raw gender pay gap is approximately 18%. Another 2019 study on garment factories in Bangladesh showed that men get more promoted than women and thus go up the ladder quicker, resulting in a gender wage gap among workers as women are stuck in entry-level positions.

Moreover, to keep prices low and be able to compete, factories often outsource their production to homeworkers, with as much as 60% of garment production done at home in Asia and Latin America. Homeworkers have even fewer rights and bargaining power than factory workers and earn very little for their work. Here again, the vast majority of homeworkers are women.

Unequal chances and glass runway

Throughout the fashion supply chain, men, despite representing a minority, tend to work in better-paid and higher-level positions such as general managers and supervisors. Men also find themselves doing higher-skilled jobs –  more valued and paid for – like cutting, because they have more opportunities to learn these new skills than women.

This disparity and gender inequality do not disappear when going up the global fashion production chain, on the contrary. Despite accounting for the vast majority of fashion schools’ students, and making up more than 70% of the total workforce in the fashion industry, women hold less than 25% of leadership positions in top fashion companies. “Only 14% of major brands are run by a female executive”, according to a study by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Glamour and McKinsey & Company, which highlights the existence of “The Glass Runway” at the top of the fashion industry pyramid.


Female leadership

Women themselves can be the basis of social change in the supply chain, whether they occupy positions at the top, in the middle or at the bottom. In leadership roles they provide better working conditions, a more positive working environment and they can be an example for future female entrepreneurs. In the middle or at the bottom of the supply chain they are indispensable to form unions, and as a result to effectively stand up for women’s and workers’ rights.

The power of collectivity for women

Trade unions are a powerful tool to ensure safer working conditions for workers, protect their rights and negotiate employee’s benefits. This collective bargaining is crucial to improve labour conditions in the garment supply chain. Despite all the challenges faced by women in the garment factories, many are organising themselves to ask for better conditions, in turn empowering other women who might be marginalised or discouraged to act for fear of retaliation in their jobs. Their collective power can help them become stronger and more independent and bring about emancipatory change. In Indonesia, for example,  factory workers formed the Inter-Factory Workers’ Federation (FBLP – Federasi Buruh Lintas Pabrik) with a proportion of 90% of women in it. Within the FBLP, the Women Workers Committee fights against abuse and sexual harassment happening in garment factories in KBN Industrial Zone in Cakung. In 2017, after having collected data and spoken up to the police and the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, the Women Workers Committee succeeded in setting up posts for complaints and advocacy for women within the factories, as well as warning signs. They are also relentlessly raising awareness and informing the workers about sexual violence and how to eliminate it, empowering the women to fight back.

The importance of entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is of great importance especially in the Global South, where women often live in precarious circumstances. It’s often upheld as a solution for numerous problems: it creates wealth and jobs, it offers welfare and can build confidence and status. Entrepreneurship is a mechanism for independence and female entrepreneurship is being seen as a great tool for economic empowerment which also leads to bigger social changes. In recent years, women entrepreneurship or access of women to the business world is the most rapidly growing economic phenomenon in developing nations such as Bangladesh. Investing in these women means investing in a more sustainable future, also in the fashion industry. Investments in local craftsmanship for example for fashion purposes can have a big impact on local communities, more especially for the women in those communities.

Woman at the top

Not only do women represent the people who make our clothes, they also make up the majority of the target audience of the fashion industry. This results in the fact that female leaders generally better understand workers’ and consumers’ needs and wishes than men, which could translate not only into better working conditions and flexibility, but also into more value for the customer and eventually increasing customer satisfaction.

Moreover, female leadership roles in global fashion companies lead to brands being more transparent and having better company culture and higher values. Through providing a safe, comfortable and positive working environment companies can break the stigma around sexual harassment, which is necessary because this is something women who have experienced or witnessed it are still reluctant to talk about and/or report.  For the company itself, a positive working environment will of course result in more success in the long run.

Having women at the top of the fashion supply chain also communicates a strong message of independence and empowerment to the outside world. They become an example for those who dream of a job as a leader in a fashion company, which will eventually lead to the diversification of the whole sector. This in turn helps the achievement of the broader Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations, especially goal n°5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.


So what are we waiting for?

Patriarchal societies unfortunately keep women away from their full potential. From research we know the consequences of this situation In the fashion industry: no equal pay, sexual harassment, and so on… . It gives a clear image of those things we want to get rid of so much. And it’s true, change happens slowly, but we need policy makers and brands to take their responsibility seriously. Brands need to acknowledge the power they have as a business and use it to foster positive change. They can, for example, work together with suppliers to tackle gender-related problems and they have to take responsibility for what’s happening in their supply chain. In addition, brands need to become more transparent. That way, NGO’s for example can localise problems faster. Being transparent as a brand isn’t the ultimate goal, but it’s a means to zoom in on these issues and deal with it. Finally we need support and action from policy makers. This week the European Parliament will discuss and vote (on Wednesday) on EU- corporate due diligence. This would make brands accountable for harm caused to people and planet. It could be a big (or even huge) step forward! But here too the condition remains – knowing that this will most likely be implemented by predominantly men – : also zoom in on gender equality and women’s rights.



Picture: Woman vector created by freepik –

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Business of Fashion. (2015, May 3). How can fashion develop more women leaders? The Business of Fashion.

Clean Clothes Campaign. (n.d.). Gender Discrimination.

Debnath, G. C., Chowdhury, S., Khan, S., Farahdina, T., & Chowdhury, T. S. (Eds.). (2019). Role of women entrepreneurship on achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Bangladesh (Vol. 10, Issue 5).

Emran, S. N., & Kyriacou, J. (2017). What She Makes: Power and Poverty in the Fashion Industry.

Fashion Revolution. (2020, April). Fashion Transparency Index 2020.

Human Rights Watch. (2019, February 12). Combating Sexual Harassment in the Garment Industry.

International Labour Organization. (2019). Promoting Decent Work in Garment Sector Global Supply Chains.—ed_protect/—protrav/—travail/documents/projectdocumentation/wcms_681644.pdfµ

Labour Behind the Label. (n.d.). Who we are. Retrieved 4 March 2021, from

Menzel, A., & Woodruff, C. (2019). Gender Wage Gaps and Worker Mobility: Evidence from the Garment Sector in Bangladesh. National Bureau of Economic Research, 1–57.

Mondiaal FNV. (2017, December 18). The Day The Voices Raised [Video]. YouTube.

Ojediran, F., & Anderson, A. (2020). Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Global South: Empowering and Emancipating? Administrative Sciences, 10(4), 87.

Parker, J. (2019, December 12). Patriarchal textile industry in Jakarta. ICL-CIT.

Pathak, D. (2017, August 15). 5 Reasons why India needs more Women Entrepreneurs. YourStory.Com.

Pike, H. (2016, September 9). Female Fashion Designers Are Still in the Minority. The Business of Fashion.

Schultze, E. (2015). Exploitation or emancipation? Women workers in the garment industry. Fashion Revolution.

United Nations. (n.d.). Goal 5 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved 4 March 2021, from

WIEGO. (n.d.). Garment Workers. Retrieved 4 March 2021, from

The human cost of our garments

Exactly one year ago, a massive fire at Nandan Denim factory in Ahmedabad, India claimed the lives of seven factory workers, once again highlighting the miserable, and often inhumane, working conditions in many garment factories.

Ahmedabad is a fast-growing city in the western state of Gujarat, India. The city’s outskirts have been exponentially growing as a garment manufacturing hub for various multinational brands across the globe. The Day of 8 February 2020 started like any other day for the garment workers at the Nandan Denim factory. No one could have predicted the horror that would unfold later that evening. A massive fire started in the shirting department of the factory and blazed through the two-story factory in the evening. At the time, more than 60 workers were present on the floor with only a single entry and exit door. The lone door could only be reached by climbing a steep ladder, making the escape incredibly difficult. The fire quickly engulfed the factory as it was full of highly flammable denim, fabric and textile dust. As smoke billowed through the windows, the workers’ cries for help could be heard while they struggled to get out. It took almost 22 hours to douse the fire with the tragedy ultimately killing seven workers, ranging in age from 22 to 47.

Grieving families of the victims had to wait for a week to identify the evacuated bodies which were charred beyond recognition. A devastated man who lost his nephew in the blaze said “We can’t even mourn our dead because we don’t know which one is ours,” After the fire, police investigation revealed that the factory had violated multiple safety regulations. A simple visual inspection showed absence of ventilation and safety measures such as fire escapes or even basic emergency apparatus. The single entry and exit door, only accessible through a ladder, further sealed the fate of the workers.

Nandan Denim claims to be India’s largest and world’s fourth-largest denim fabric maker, manufacturing denim fabric, shirting fabric and yarn for some of the biggest brands in the world.  Its factory workers, mainly women, earn about 35 cents per hour, often working for 14-hours per day in unsafe conditions. Survivors told reporters that to meet the unrealistic client demand they are forced to stitch more than 400 garment pieces a day, often skipping meal and toilet breaks. One worker said “We work almost 14 hours a day. But do we have an option? Every once in a while, there is a fire in some factory or the other. Nobody cares and we keep on working.” In fact, workers continued to work even after the fire had started as there was no adequate alarm system to start the evacuation process. How the mandatory audits failed to detect such large scale violation of minimum safety requirements can be attributed to a corrupt system which exploits the most deprived and poverty-stricken faction of our society. The workers are often migrant labourers, sub-contracted to small contractors. They live and work in unimaginably miserable conditions because for most of them this is the only means of survival. They rarely have any voice or identity and are immediately dismissed upon expressing any grievance.

In light of these revelations, perhaps I should retract my previous statement. Given the clear human exploitation, gross negligence of regulations and complete disregard for human life, all fueled by the fashion industry’s insatiable demand for speed and cheapness, maybe such incidents should have been predicted and even expected.

The fact is this wasn’t the first or the last fatal fire incident in garment factories, let alone Nandan Denim factory. After the February fire, the factory was closed by local safety and health authorities and its licenses were suspended. Nandan Denim agreed to pay $14,000 to the next of kin of the victims and also provide a job to one of their family members. Merely six months later, another major fire was reported at a production unit in the premises of Nandan Denim. Fortunately, this time there were no fatalities. This is the continuation of the same toxic cycle – the media limelight eventually recede, the “situation” is handled, the activists mollified and virtually no credible action taken beyond the public relations exercise and paying off the legal fines – until something similar happens again.

Interestingly, although Nandan Denim claims to be the supplier to major international retailers on its website, most of the brands distanced themselves after the incident and declared to have no relationship with them – which brings us to the crux of the issue. The lack of accountability from the brands for whom these garments are ultimately being manufactured. This can be attributed to the multi-tiered and complicated nature of garment supply chains because of which it is a near impossible task to trace a specific item to one factory. Typically, the factory that sews the garments and ships them for distribution is the tier closest to clothing brands. Below these are fabric manufacturers such as Nandan Denim. As we move further down the supply chain, fabric suppliers, such as spinning mills, are some of the least transparent. This makes it easy and convenient for brands to shrug off the responsibility of these incidents.

To bring about long-lasting and meaningful change, brands must acknowledge and take ownership of their entire supply chain. They hold the most power and cannot abdicate responsibility for malpractice at any level of the value chain. After all, every single worker toiling at different tiers contributes to the creation of the garment they sell and profit off millions of dollars under their name.

Sadly, it is evident from past incidents that brands are highly unlikely to act of their own accord unless their reputations are at stake. For instance, it was only after the Rana Plaza tragedy in 2013, that apparel companies signed the legally binding agreement on health and building code inspection called the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The results were gradual but labour advocates say it has brought about a physical transformation in Bangladesh factories. However, the change has not been seen throughout the garment industry and the code of conduct focuses only on implementing measures which can be seen and audited.

Work rights advocates, JJ Rosenbaum, of the Global Labor Justice Project said “Sometimes the problem we face is a compassion fatigue: the notion that it cant be that bad if its happening all the time,”  The Nandan factory incident is just one of the many examples of egregious violations in safety standards leading to loss of human lives in garment factories. Fire accidents have become such a regular and repeated phenomenon in the garment supply chain that they are simply accepted as part and parcel of the business. Fires caused by faulty electronics, boiler explosions or illegal conversion of buildings ill-equipped for industrial use are a common occurrence in garment factories globally. These lone incidents can be forgotten but lives lost cannot be replaced.

As consumers, we can hold global brands accountable to create greater transparency of the regulatory mechanisms and adherence to international and local human rights and safety laws. In Fashion Revolution’s latest Consumer Survey, 74% of people agreed that fashion brands should publish which factories they use to manufacture their clothes and 73% said they should publish their fabric suppliers. Now we need demand that industry put this sentiment into action. First, we must call on these brands to disclose their suppliers at every level of the value chain, from sewing and garment making facilities to raw materials suppliers. Then, we must demand that brands create policies and purchasing practices which enable all of their suppliers to ensure every worker is safe from harm. The guidelines and codes of conduct, such as the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, should not exclusively focus on physical infrastructure. They need to rectify issues that affect the long-term well-being of workers such as long working hours, physical and bodily exhaustion, intense work rhythms, harassment, and the lack of any meaningful representation. They have to coordinate and work with labour unions to actively monitor and resolve issues that go beyond refurbishing buildings and fulfilling the audit criteria and ensure basic human rights for workers.

Ultimately, we need a collective shift in mindset which recognises workers as human beings deserving of leading a life with dignity, safety and security – basic rights that most of us are privileged with and take for granted. No human should have to risk their health and safety to earn an honest living. Essentially the workers are paying the price with their health and all too often their lives, only to save brands a few cents on a pair of jeans. As we mark the anniversary of this tragedy, we must ask ourselves, after all the societal progress and development of the 20th century, have we degraded human life to be worthy of just a few cents?

Declaración pública sobre la publicidad de la marca Streets – Viernes 5 de febrero 2021

Acerca de la denuncia hecha por una usuaria, sobre el uso de un llamado de auxilio hecho a través de la etiqueta en una de sus prendas de la colección GetOut perteneciente a la marca Streets:

En  Fashion Revolution manifestamos un absoluto rechazo al uso de estrategias de marketing que tiendan a manipular la la reacción de los consumidores, banalizando las condiciones laborales y de seguridad que sufren o podrían sufrir las y los trabajadores de la confección, en cualquier eslabón de la cadena de suministro de la industria de la moda, en cualquier parte del mundo.


En la cadena de suministro de la moda masiva o fast fashion, las y los trabajadores al final de la cadena de suministro, en el proceso de las  materias primas y la manufactura, sufren la mayor presión de la estrategia de producir mucho, más barato y con menor calidad la ropa que vestimos que tienen las grandes marcas.

Fashion Revolution, en conjunto con MFO crearon el “Diario de las trabajadores de la confección” un estudio de campo  que recopila datos fiables y periódicos sobre las horas de trabajo, los ingresos, los gastos y el uso de herramientas financieras de los trabajadores en la cadena de suministro mundial de prendas de vestir y textiles en los países productores.

Adicionalmente a la calamidad sanitaria que ha producido la pandemia del Covid-19, los países que albergan las fábricas donde se produce la ropa masiva, están sufriendo las consecuencias de los cierres de fábricas y talleres junto con la presión que ejercen las grandes marcas, exigiendo menores precios para realizar sus encargos. Esto es particularmente evidente en Bangladesh.

Al comienzo de esta crisis las marcas dejaron de pagar los pedidos pendientes de entrega y aquellos comprometidos para el futuro, produciendo una ola masiva de despidos y movilizaciones migratorias, si antes las trabajadoras de la confección vivían en pobreza, ahora viven en pobreza extrema. La reacción de las organizaciones internacionales de la sociedad civil, no tardó en llegar. A través de la campaña #Payup (paguen a sus trabajadores), pudimos transmitir la indignación de las personas por la intolerable indiferencia de las marcas que, a pesar de todas estas consecuencias, deliberadamente dejaban de cumplir los compromisos más básicos. Con el pasar de los meses algunas marcas han regularizado esta situación, pero ahora nos enfrentamos a la relocalización de los puntos de confección y la manipulación de los precios

La publicidad a la que nos referimos en este comunicado, no refleja la intención de levantar una campaña responsable frente a una realidad que ha recrudecido el último tiempo, producto del aprovechamiento de las marcas para reducir los pagos a los talleres subcontratados. Debe haber un aporte y compromiso para luchar contra estos hechos, de manera sistémica y radical, para que esta forma de hacer industria, cambie.

Fashion revolution realiza cada año e Índice de Transparencia de la Moda, donde las grandes marcas muestran qué tan transparentes son con respecto a la información que tienen, entre otras tópicos, de las condiciones bajo las cuales  trabajan las personas que están su cadena de suministro y en caso de encontrar falencias, qué están haciendo para cambiarlo. La divulgación pública nos invita a indagar  y permite a la ciudadanía ejercer su derecho a obtener más información. La no divulgación perpetúa un sistema no inclusivo, en el que se espera que la ciudadanía confíe en las marcas que han seguido poniendo las ganancias y el crecimiento por encima de todo.

No es suficiente que la marca en cuestión se disculpe, o que París, la empresa que la distribuía, finalice el vínculo comercial. Las marcas deben tomar responsabilidad y no desentenderse, transparentando qué están haciendo para cambiar la situación de fondo y cuáles son sus compromisos, de manera concreta y transparente.

Fashion Revolution insta a las marcas y empresas minoristas a tomar con seriedad el tipo de comunicación que realizan y la información que entregan al público. La transparencia es la principal herramienta que tenemos, desde los consumidores hasta los trabajadores del final de la cadena de suministro y especialmente marcas y minoristas, para asegurar que las condiciones de trabajo, seguridad y salarios de las personas que hacen nuestra ropa, sean dignos y no perjudiquen su calidad de vida. Este debe ser el centro de la discusión, no otro.

Hoy más que nunca se hace necesario que las personas  pregunten a las marcas #QuiénHizoMiRopa y exigir una respuesta transparente, para saber quién, dónde y en qué condiciones se hace su ropa.

How less can be more for yourself, the planet and the people around you

One morning I was walking with a friend of mine and we were discussing a birthday present which we were planning to buy for a friend. She asked “Why is it that sustainable fashion is always so expensive?” to which I answered: “Well it makes it possible for brands to actually pay their workers a living wage and to make sure they are working under safe conditions. People who buy sustainable fashion know that behind cheap clothing lies a production process characterised by unfair working conditions, wages and environmental ruin. They prefer buying pieces which are made under fair conditions even if it means they will have to pay more money. . It’s a question of priority.” But then I realised that this is not the case at all. In what way, then, should one envisage sustainable fashion and consumerism?

Systemic problem

The term ‘ethical consumerism’ – the social component of  ‘sustainable consumerism’ if you will – is illustrative of the systemic problem which is present in today’s society, namely that spending your money otherwise is enough in order to ‘change’ something. It defends the idea that when we buy sweaters made from recycled materials, jewellery made out of lab-grown diamonds or reusable coffee cups, companies will eventually give in to consumers’ pressure and that this will change the world for the better, i.e. that the planet will be saved and that (garment) workers will live in excellent conditions. In short, ethical consumerism claims that we can buy our way out of trouble. This, however, is nothing more and nothing less than an illusion. Change can’t directly come from people only buying sustainable products or clothes; apart from consuming, we also need activism and sytemic change.

Lack of regulation

Why? Because even though there are some changes in some countries where some brands manufacture their clothes there are still too many brands who haven’t lived up to their promises[1]. Consuming more ‘ethically’ will not solve this problem. In her article The Twilight of the Ethical Consumer Elizabeth L. Cline (2020) points out that ‘What drives sweatshops is not a consumer demand for sweatshops. It is a lack of proper labour laws to protect garment workers and intense economic concentration that incentivizes the industry to drive down wages’. Us ‘consumers’ who give or don’t give priority to workers’ rights over cheap clothing will not solve the problem, but us ‘citizens’ raising our voices and holding brands accountable for the damage they inflict upon the people who work for them, can.

Accelerated workload

Apart from calling out brands and governments, there is another thing citizens can do which will not only benefit garment workers, but also ourselves and the planet. Consuming less. I wish I could say that garment workers only experience more pressure when the companies they work for organise sales but in the past decade or so one cannot speak of ‘summer sales’ or ‘winter sales’ anymore; rather, we live in a time of ‘permanent sales’. Think about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the mails you receive when brands start to notice that you haven’t shopped with them for more than a month. Sales are everywhere, all the time and this not only leads to garment workers experiencing even more pressure than usual, but also to people ‘buy[ing] things [they] don’t need, with money [they] don’t have to impress people [they] don’t like’, as Dave Ramsey says in his book The Total Money Makeover (2007). Not only is overconsumption causing the workforce to increasingly experience more pressure, it is also the expectation and possibility of orders being delivered within a day or two of purchase. Companies need larger inventories which contributes to garment workers having to work even harder and longer without being paid accordingly.

Explore your own wardrobe

It is time for us to look differently at what we already have and make the best out of that. It is time that we end the idea that consuming more will make us happy and will fulfil our needs. When we continuously accelerate the amount of clothes which we buy , the needs which we think we are fulfilling are not of a physical, biological nature but of a social nature, i.e. they are not essential for our survival but we buy them because we want to be cool, to be ourselves, to gain other people’s attention and even love. Indeed, the way in which we dress helps us build our identity but imagine how many ‘identities’ people would have if they would buy new clothes every single week because they want to keep up with so-called ‘trends’. Companies’ expensive marketing tactics blind us into believing that we constantly need new clothes. We shouldn’t see personalities as trends which can be ‘bought’ but see them as constructs, unique to every individual, and base the way in which we think of people on their actions, not on their purchases. Imagine how much money you could save by just a simple shift in mindset. Sustainable fashion is also about buying less, re-exploring your wardrobe, renting clothes, borrowing and mending. If you combine these different forms sustainable fashion does not necessarily have to be expensive.

“Citizens like you and I must call brands out and hold them accountable for how they treat our planet”

Less is now, also for our planet. In 2017 each Belgian used an equivalent of 6.6 global hectares to meet their needs whereas the earth’s capacity only lies at .82 global hectares per capita (Global Footprint Network et al. 1961-2017). According to Quantis (2016) the footwear and apparel industry are responsible for around 8.1% of global climate impacts. What’s more, ‘every second an equivalent of a truck full of textile is sent to landfill or to incinerators’, Tatiana De Wée, who is the coordinator for Fashion Revolution Belgium, points out in her opinion article for Knack (Ellen McArthur Foundation as cited in De Wée, 2019). It is no secret that clothing consumption has a devastating impact on the environment and that it is essential that we switch to a circular economy model. This shift is partly in the hands of companies but in order for them to really change, citizens like you and I must call them out and hold them accountable for how they treat our planet. The good news is that this is easier than you think. We live in an era where digital activism becomes increasingly important, not only because COVID-19 keeps us from going out on the streets but also because more and more brands are active on social media. To a large extent they rely  on earned media, i.e. people’s comments, mentions and reviews of their brand as a way of advertising.

Digital activism

It is our job to use our social platforms to demand systemic social and environmental change in the fashion industry. Each year in the week of 24 April Fashion Revolution Week is organised to commemorate the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013. It is a week in which people are asked to use hashtags such as #WhoMadeMyClothes and #WhatsInMyClothes to call on brands, but I encourage everyone to use these hashtags all year round, and to make digital activism a part of their lives, not only because it is easy but also because it is more powerful than one would think. Make sure to also sign petitions and send emails to brands – you can find templates for that on the Fashion Revolution website. Be part of leading the cultural shift towards a sustainable fashion system, take pride and above all, enjoy! Your voice counts!

Photo by K8 on Unsplash


De Wée, T. (2019, 8 november). “Hoe kan je roepen om armoede te bannen als je zelfs je eigen kledingarbeiders geen leefloon betaalt?” Knack Weekend.

Global Footprint Network, York University, & Footprint Data Foundation. (1961–2017). Open Data Platform [Dataset]. Global Footprint Network.,EFCpc

Cline, E. (2020, 19 oktober). The Twilight of the Ethical Consumer. Atmos.

Quantis. (2018). Measuring Fashion: Environmental Impact of the Global Apparel and Footwear Industry Study.

Ramsey, D. (2007). The Total Money Makeover. Adfo Books.

[1] For more information, check Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index 2020:

Marking Human Rights Day: How legislation can help protect the people who makes our clothes

December 10th marks the celebration of Human Rights Day around the globe – a moment to recognise the impact of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on livelihoods and to affirm the importance of human rights everywhere. In the fashion industry, and during a moment when the global pandemic has upended business-as-usual, it’s more important than ever to fight for the rights of the people working in garment supply chains and demand an end to forced labour. 

Severe labour exploitation takes place in fashion supply chains in many forms, from home-based workers lacking social protection to the prevalence of child labour on cotton farms. According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, garments are the second highest at-risk product category for modern slavery imported into G20 countries1. Even where working conditions don’t meet the standard of forced and bonded labour, the vast majority of workers across the fashion supply chain live in poverty, earn far below a living wage, and lack any ability to unionise in order to negotiate their wages or for better working conditions. 

Paul Roeland, Transparency Lead at Clean Clothes Campaign, explains: “The current pandemic has shown a terrible light on how unfair the fashion supply chain is. Garment workers need immediate relief – but it also shows that we cannot simply go back to the situation as before. There should be no going back to normal, as the “normal” was deeply flawed. We should use the coming recovery to build fundamentally different, fairer, and more sustainable models for fashion. Both people and planet simply cannot go back to where they were.”

How can legislation improve conditions for the people who make our clothes?

Clean Clothes Campaign and Fashion Revolution have worked alongside more that 65 organisations in publishing the Civil Society European Shadow Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, Garments, Leather and Footwear (TGLF). A shadow strategy is an unofficial policy strategy presented to government officials as recommendations for formal legislation. The shadow strategy calls upon the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament and EU Governments to build and promote a fashion industry that respects human rights, creates decent jobs and adheres to high social and environmental standards throughout the value chain.

When it comes to improving the human rights of garment supply chain workers, the shadow strategy proposes Human Rights Due Diligence Legislation as one of the key recommendations. Fashion Revolution’s Global Policy Director, Sarah Ditty, says: “We expect to see this legislation proposed by the European Commission in 2021, and in the meantime, we will be pushing to ensure that this legislation includes robust and effective access to justice and grievance mechanisms for people working in exploitative and dangerous conditions while making products for big brands.”

This shadow strategy isn’t the only government initiative pushing for human rights in globalised supply chains. Modern Slavery Acts in the UK and Australia and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act came into force over the last decade in order to address working conditions in global supply chains. Yet, what is lacking is effective implementation and liability for companies that don’t comply. For example, when companies fail to comply with the UK Modern Slavery Act, they receive nothing more than a strongly worded letter. “Governments have let a system and culture of unfair trading practices go unchecked,” says Sarah Ditty. “This has played a huge role in forcing garment workers to remain stuck in poverty-level pay, exploitative, precarious and dangerous working conditions in countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia and even Eastern Europe. The civil society shadow European Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, Garments, Leather and Footwear calls upon the European Commission to put in place measures to end abusive purchasing practices, such as late payments for orders or short-notice order cancellations, which can directly result in human rights violations.


How do trade regulations impact workers on the ground? 

The clothes we buy in store (or online, more recently) are unlikely to have been made in the country where it was purchased. In fact, the average cotton t-shirt is likely to have passed through many countries and many pairs of hands on its journey from raw material into finished product. This globalised value chain means that international trade regulations have a profound impact on workers. The European Union’s system of trade preferences, known as GSP, are meant to ensure respect for civil liberties, freedom of association and other labour standards, set out by the International Labor Organisation, as a necessary condition for countries to import their goods to the EU. 

But when goods are made inside of the EU, governments have even more control over working conditions. Paul Roeland says: “The EU should make sure that all Member States set minimum wages that, at minimum, take living costs into account, and should be on a roadmap towards a real living wage. Currently the minimum wages in many Member States are very far away from that. Beyond that, the EU should strengthen the Non-Financial Reporting standards, and provide open and easy access to these reports. This will in turn allow responsible investors to base their decisions on credible, data-based evidence of performance and progress.” 

He adds: “Governments and public institutions are also major consumers of garments; think about uniforms for anybody from bus drivers to nurses, work clothing, etc. They should set an example by invoking strong social and environmental criteria as part of their public procurement.”


How can individual citizens support legislation that protects garment workers? 

Contact your Member of European Parliament, (you can look yours up here), and let them know that you support and want to see them adopt the recommendations put forward in the civil society shadow European strategy for sustainable textiles, garments, leather and footwear. Tell your MEP (via email, phone call, tweet, or DM) that you want them to do more to improve the working conditions, wages and respect for human rights of the people across the world that make the clothes you wear, both inside and outside the EU.