Imagine leaving your family, moving to a new city to share a room strangers so that you can work in a job that you know will not even cover half of your basic living costs. You will work long hours, be forced into unpaid overtime and in some cases risk being beaten. Sounds like a nightmare doesn't it? But this nightmare is a reality for millions of garment industry workers across the world, the majority of of whom are women.
At this point let us remind ourselves Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity.’
The garment industry and its failings are denying the basic human rights of millions and our love for cheap fashion is one of the key factors in why this is happening. Fast fashion companies are demanding cheaper, faster, more and the manufacturers seek to reduce labour costs in order to be competitive. It is time we understood the knock on effect of cheap fashion and stop trying to pass the buck.
By choosing brands that guarantee workers a Living Wage and follow Fair Trade principles you can rest assured that no one was exploited in order for you to bag that cute dress. The more we demand Fair Trade and living wage, the more big chains will have to demand it from their suppliers too. As consumers we have choices and more power than we know. Let's use this to do good.
At Gather&See Fair Trade and Living Wage are two of our most important criteria for brands. We are honoured to stock two brands that have led the way in Fair Trade fashion from the beginning, People Tree and Komodo. Both work with Fair Trade groups across Asia to produce beautiful collections at the same time nuturing and respecting their workers.
To give you a little more insight let us tell you about one manufacturer that produces People Tree's Zandra Rhodes Block Print Dress. Kumudini Welfare Trust is a social business in Bangladesh. Kumudini supports disadvantaged women by providing work opportunities and access to medical treatment. Artisans are paid a fair wage for their work and they use the extra money for their children to provide them with better food and education. Profits from Fair Trade are reinvested and used to run a 600 bed hospital that offers nursing training and free health care to low income families in Bangladesh.
It is initatives like this that can change the face of fashion as well as the lives of millions of women working in the garment industry. Support the change and choose Fair Trade.