Behind the Seams: Fashion Industry & Forced Labour

Understanding the Joint Roles of Brands and Consumers

Let’s delve “behind the seams” to unveil the link between the fashion industry and forced labour. The connection is robust, a topic often discussed yet incredibly overlooked by consumers despite the information.

In a recent post, we exposed the symbiotic relationship between luxury brands and fast fashion, both operating within the capitalistic framework. Today, we peel back another layer, examining recent cases.

Behind the seams of luxury brands

First, we happened to read a BOF post: “Luxury brands lag on efforts to reduce forced labour.” Reduce? But isn’t it appalling that brands discuss reducing forced labour instead of eliminating forced labour? By the way, the graphic in the attachment gathered luxury brands and fast fashion brands. All the most popular ones! (see it here).
Second, these days, the news reported the case of Alviero Martini. The company is under investigation for starving wages.

These two elements confirm our thesis: luxury brands and fast fashion share the same pattern, just for different pockets. But, above all, they highlight how deeply this issue is rooted in the fashion system, revealing it as a consolidated practice to maximise profit.

Also, it is interesting to notice that luxury brands often blame fast fashion while hiding their practices that are no different! Luxury brands exploit people’s work precisely as fast fashion does. Whatever the “made in” label says.

According to “Knowthechain” – a non-profit organisation:
“Today, an estimated 24.9 million people around the world are victims of forced labour, generating $150 billion in illegal profits in the private economy.”

Forced labour & modern-day slavery

Forced labour refers to individuals compelled to work against their will, under threat of punishment or coercion. In other words, individuals suffer exploitation as they are deprived of their freedom, coerced into labour without fair remuneration, and subjected to conditions over which they have no control. Forced labour can take various forms, including human trafficking, debt bondage, and other forms of modern slavery, and it is a violation of fundamental human rights as well as international labour standards.

Although condemned and prohibited by national and international laws, the practice is widespread. What’s worse? People, through their purchases, endorse this despicable system.

The fashion industry has no moral fabric, just as individuals who ignore the issue despite the available information.

Are you willing to shut your eyes when buying a logoed bag?
Did you know there’s an alternative? Small, independent brands offer luxury handbags with the finest materials, quality and skilled craftsmanship, all at just 1/3 the price of a branded bag. But while the logoed ones may be easy to sell, only a niche audience can appreciate true quality.

Your decisions as a consumer can shape an industry that values humanity over profit. Don’t compromise ethics over status.

What happens “behind the seams,” the dark connection between the fashion industry and forced labour, is extensively covered in the media. Read, share, and take action. But do not close your eyes. Ignorance is not an option; it’s time to confront the truth.

Leave a Comment