Although these are all basic questions you’d be surprised at how many brands are not meeting any of these standards in the current fashion industry. A recent study by Fashion Checker (2020) found that 93% of surveyed brands aren’t even paying garment workers a living wage. The truth is, if the people throughout the supply chain are not treated equally, can we really feel empowered by the clothing we wear?
Our fast paced consumption habits are a result of the interconnected, globalised world we live in, making our clothes more accessible than they have ever been and offering more choice than ever before. The fast fashion industry utilises trend replication, rapid production and poor quality materials in order to bring inexpensive styles to the mass public. Many brands launch up to 52 collections per year resulting in new items live every single week. Unfortunately, to accomplish these targets there are harmful consequences to both human and environmental parts of their supply chain. With the increased trend of brands producing clothing at such high speeds, corners inevitably have to be cut. The truth is, the fast fashion model thrives on producing vast quantities of clothing often at the cost of the rights and freedom of the humans who make them.
Modern day exploitation can be seen in many forms: not paying a living wage, to not representing garment worker rights and unsafe working conditions. These forms of exploitation from western companies outsourcing to the global south and thus are predominantly affecting BIPOC, makes this issue deeply rooted in racism too. The unjust reality is that the very communities who make the industry tick are often the very same communities being taken advantage of. Earlier this year we saw modern day slavery allegations in a garment factory based in Leister, UK, this is a problem happening across the rest of the world everyday.
With the rise of our fast paced consumption habits, throwaway culture and sponsored advertising on social media, consumers have now been conditioned by brands to desire the cheapest most readily available clothing. This perpetuates the fast consumption cycle to continue, unless we challenge the status quo.
I believe the only way we can begin to tackle exploitation in the fashion industry is to look at dismantling the systems that make it possible in the first place, demanding transparency from brands and not buying from companies that don’t openly share their supply chain information. How can we feel empowered by the clothing we wear if the people who made them are not empowered?
What can you do to repel fast consumption habits and invest in slowing down, shopping mindfully and being assured that your clothing is empowering the people who made them?
Look into Wolf and Badger’s ‘Happy Worker’ search filter, any brand with this label can guarantee that workers are paid a living wage; no child labour or human trafficking is involved in the production of the collection; the factory is compliant with all local environmental regulations. But to save you some time, see below for my favorite ‘Happy Worker’ brands at Wolf and Badger:
All photographs taken at Wolf & Badger Studios
For more information about the photographs go to wolfandbadgerstudios.com