how much do fast fashion workers really make? are they living in modern slavery?
what exactly is fast fashion?
Fast-Fashion can be referred to as a business model that quickly turns trends into clothes using very short manufacturing cycles with no regard to the environment, the people, and the society.
We have to say, there is no „fast fashion book”, and this terrible practice comes in many shapes and forms, but they all have many things in common and that’s why they are all gathered around this term.
This is done with the intent to get the freshest styles into the market that will keep customers buying more and more while tragically disposing of the clothes they do not use, clothes that usually do not last a lot of time because of their low-quality materials.
This business practice has a lot of terrible consequences that we will talk about later, but if you want to dig deeper into this feel free to read is fast-fashion a social issue?.
how much do fast fashion workers really make?
The wage that the garment worker makes varies a lot from country to country, with factors influencing it like productivity, laws, the overall job market, currency exchange… But overall in the Fast Fashion industry, these workers are not exactly receiving a good wage, not even a livable wage in most cases. We shall see some examples next.
According to the Garment Worker Center, even in California, there are Fast Fashion workers, primarily immigrants from Latin America and China, who earn a below-minimum wage, working around 60h/week and getting paid $300 for it, and remember, this is California!
According to research made by the brands ABLE and Nisolo, only around 2% of textile workers made a livable wage, which is taking into account the cost of living in different countries, which is something very important to take into account. This is quite alarming, to say the least, knowing that only 1 out of 50 garments are made with somewhat fair labor, where the workers are paid a livable wage.
However, we look at these facts, in absolute or relative numbers, Fast Fashion workers and textile workers, in general, earn very little doing tons of work, and we will see the reasons for it next.
can we talk about modern slavery with the fast fashion industry?
When we look at these numbers, one question arises, are Fast Fashion workers suffering from modern slavery, or is this too extremist to say? Well, we first have to define what modern slavery is, it basically consists of the illegal exploitation of people for commercial gains, using methods like debt bondage or other types of constraints that force a person to work against their will.
Unfortunately, this does happen in a lot of Fast Fashion factories around the world, but thankfully this is not the norm. In most cases, the textile workers choose the job because there are no better options for which they can qualify, and they are somewhat „free” to leave the job. This does not excuse, however, that they are forced in other more subtle ways to work in inhuman conditions with very low wages, or that many textile workers are straight out modern slaves.
Most textile workers are only a few steps toward modern slavery, on the edge of the law, and this is something we should change urgently. And we’re only talking about the workers making the garments in the factory because if we go even further down the production line, to the cotton producers, the thing just gets worse and worse.
Uzbekistan exports around 10% of the world’s cotton that is used to produce our clothes, what’s wrong with this? The country openly uses forced, slave, and child labor to produce cotton, we are not only saying that the state allows these types of things to happen, but rather that the own state uses slave labor to produce and export cotton. Thankfully Uzbekistan has recently abolished slavery in 2020, but this doesn’t mean this terrible practice isn’t going to continue for a while.
Overall, modern slavery is a problem that affects all of the fashion industry, and the Fast Fashion industry is greatly responsible for the terrible working condition of textile workers and the low rate of development of producing countries, with very low productivity factories.
what can we do about it?
There are many ways we can help this situation to turn around, to help all the textile workers worldwide get a livable wage with decent working conditions. That is what we are going to discuss next, so stay put.
We first have to ditch Fast Fashion, this low-quality garment producer is not only terrible for the environment, but it also exploits its workers in order to offer ridiculously low prices on their products, making its customers constantly devour clothes as much as possible.
We can do that by denouncing the fashion stores that have the worst impact on this world and its workers, like the infamous SHEIN, obviously not consuming their products anymore and forcing them to change their practices or just get out of the clothing market.
The other important thing is to support Ethical Fashion, buying clothes that are made with fair trade and labor, and supporting an industry that treats its workers right and wants to have a positive impact on this world. This is the way to go if we want to make a change for the better.
And the most important one of all is informing yourself as a customer, researching the true impact your fashion choices have on the planet and the textile workers worldwide, and spreading awareness by informing others around you about it. And congratulations! you are already doing that by reading this article.
We hope you have learned a lot about Fast Fashion and its workers today, we did too! If you want to keep investigating the Fast Fashion, Ethical, Sustainable, or Slow Fashion industry and what they stand for, feel free to check out our other articles linked below.
We are thrilled to teach people all around the world 🙂 Also, did you really know what Fast Fashion really is and its terrible consequences for the environment, the planet, the workers, society, and the economy? Do you know exactly what the Slow Fashion or Sustainable Fashion movement is? You should really take a look at these articles about this forgotten and unknown but very urgent and important subject, click here to read „Can Fashion Ever Be Sustainable?”, Sustainable Fashion, Ethical Fashion, Slow Fashion or Fast Fashion 101 | How It’s Destroying Our Planet because knowledge is one of the most powerful strengths you can have, while ignorance is your worst weakness.
We also have a big surprise for you! Because we want to give you the right to know us better, we have prepared a carefully dedicated About Us page where we will tell you who we are, what our mission is, what we do, a closer look at our team, and many more things! Do not miss this opportunity and click here to check it out. Also, we invite you to take a look at our Pinterest, where we will pin everyday sustainable fashion-related content, clothing designs, and other things that you will surely love!