Do You Know How Much Garment Workers Really Make?
By Irene San Segundo
This is the question Barret Bard, CEO of fashion and accessories brand ABLE, and Patrick Woodward, founder, and CEO of shoe brand Nisolo started to ask themselves. More specifically, how much do the lowest-paid employees in their companies make. And that includes the shoemakers in Perú, the sewers in Ethiopia, and the jewelry makers in Nashville, to name a few.
According to these brands´ research, only an estimated 2% of fashion workers around the world are paid a livable salary and with the initiative to publish their companies’ lowest wages they are aiming to protect the people making their clothing, and encourage other brands to do the same.
“By asking one very clear question (“What’s your lowest wage?”), this campaign is calling for some much needed moral clarity to what is actually taking place in the lives of people who make the clothes we put on our bodies”, says Director of The True Cost Andrew Morgan. “I am hopeful it will bring about a new and needed conversation across the larger industry.”
View this post on Instagram
The #LowestWageChallenge is an invitation from you to your favorite brands, asking them to join alongside in giving genuine transparency to how the most vulnerable women are being paid. Please continue to tag your favorite brands below! [point down]. If only 2% of fashion workers earn a wage that they can live on, when you nominate brands to join the #LowestWageChallenge, you are asking them to be a part of the solution. We believe this movement begins with you asking like-minded and responsible brands to share the lowest wages of their workers – not an average wage or a labor cost per garment – but the lowest wage. It's not "calling brands out", its inviting them to be a part of a movement that values progress over protection. We want to partner with you to say to the industry, we don't have to be perfect before we are honest about both our strengths and weaknesses. So please continue to nominate brands – simply comment and tag your favorite brands below "@brand, what's your lowest wage? #LowestWageChallenge “
And how do we know what a living wage actually means for the workers? According to ABLE, this is determined based on local prices for housing and utilities, transportation, food and water, healthcare, childcare, education, and savings. Also, considering resources from international organizations such as MIT Living Wage Calculator, Wage Indicator, or Trading Economics, and also from the data they gathered through their partnership with Goodops, a consultancy that works with brands to help them transform their supply chains and logistics networks to a more sustainable model.
You can see the full campaign on this video and ask brands to join the challenge on social media using the hashtag #LowestWageChallenge