I’m back for another guest wardrobe tips
blog and this time I wanted to highlight a subject that I think is very important to us as King’s daughters: ‘ethical fashion’.
When I say to you…
“I don’t want people to suffer or die to produce clothes for me to wear”
…perhaps it sounds like I’m just trying to shock you and get your attention. But the awful thing is that although we don’t know it, that’s exactly what we’re responsible for when we buy a lot of the clothes that are for sale today.
The reality is that much of what we wear is made by women in ‘sweat shops’. This means they work in unsafe conditions with no proper toilet facilites in oppressive temperatures. They are often sexually assaulted, forced to have abortions and take contraceptives and abused and threatened by managers. They work for long hours, get low pay (not enough for proper food), are not allowed to join a union or any organisation that would represent their interests, have no career development and are often locked into factories at night.
Did you know:
● There are 27 million slaves in the world today – some of them working in the clothing industry. This isn’t just abroad either. Last year, dispatches made a programme showing a factory in Leicester which was paying garment workers £2.50/hr to work in dangerous conditions with a locked fire escape! They were making clothes for stores like BHS, Jane Norman, Peacocks, New Look and C&A.
● 20,000 people die every year from accidental pesticide poisoning in conventional cotton agriculture. 200,000 cotton farmers commit suicide annually due to spiralling debts. A further 1,000,000 people a year suffer from long-term pesticide poisoning.
● 70 toxic chemicals are released into the world’s waterways from fabric dyeing and are responsible for 17-20% of worldwide water pollution.
Over the last few years, fashion has become increasingly fast and disposable. Shops stock small batches of many different lines that change very rapidly. We’re encouraged to buy fast, cheap and in quantity, discard not long afterwards and refill our cupboards again as soon as possible.
This has contributed to the use of cheap labour. Out of a £4 t-shirt from a certain supermarket chain, £2.80 was kept by the chain, £1.185 paid to the supplier to cover fabric costs etc. and just 1.5p paid to the garment worker.
You may wonder: “Don’t our shops check these factories?” The answer is “yes” BUT the checks aren’t much use. Inspectors interview workers who have been told what to say and are too frightened to be honest. Inspectors get tricked – one was impressed by the toilet facilities to discover the loo wasn’t even plumbed in – it had been put there for the inspection. And unfortunately inspectors do sometimes see the truth but our shops choose to turn a blind eye.
There’s so much more to say… I recommend Lucy Siegle’s book: To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World which came out recently. Read more here
where I will make some suggestions on how we can get dressed without having caused people to suffer or die for it.