Behind the Seams: The True Cost of Fast Fashion
Do you ever wonder how it's possible that clothes haven't become more expensive over the last few decades?
One of the main reasons is cheap labour. Fast fashion brands, which mass-produce garments and operate on a rapid consumption model, have made it possible for prices to remain low. But there is a hidden cost to these low prices that we often forget about: the welfare of the garment workers.
Many people have gotten used to the idea of buying clothes at very low prices. However, this mindset comes at a heavy cost to the workers who produce these garments. The factories where they work are often at the mercy of big international brands, which squeeze them for lower prices. This, in turn, leads to low wages for garment workers and shoddy working conditions.
In many Asian countries, the minimum wages to be paid are much lower than the living wages. In India for eg. the minimum wages need to be increased 2.8 times so that the worker and his family gets a dignified livelihood and covers the basic cost of living. In addition to low wages, there is not much job security as well. If the orders to the factories dry up, these daily wage earners would not get their wages.
Rana Plaza disaster
One of the most well-known examples of the consequences of this exploitation is the Rana Plaza disaster. Exactly 10 years ago, on April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,138 garment workers and injuring over 2,500. The building, which housed several garment factories, was not structurally sound, and workers had been reporting cracks in the walls for some time. However, they were forced to continue working by their employers, who were under pressure to meet tight production deadlines for big international brands.
Despite this tragedy, not much has changed in the garment industry. Many brands still prioritize low costs over the welfare of their workers. In fact, some brands have even been accused of using forced labor in their supply chains, which is a clear violation of human rights.
As a brand, it is important that worker welfare is not compromised to achieve the profits they desire. They need to come out with alternative business models that are not based on deep discounting and exploitation of resources and labour.
As consumers, we have the power to make a difference. By choosing to buy from brands that prioritize ethical production, we can encourage change in the industry. We should also consider paying more for our clothes so that garment workers can earn a living wage. We can also pressure brands to improve working conditions and ensure that workers are treated with dignity and respect.
It's time to prioritize the welfare of garment workers over our desire for cheap clothes. By making conscious choices and making brands accountable, we can create a fashion industry that is both ethical and sustainable.
At Earthy Route, due to smaller batches of production, the price to get a garment ready is higher than big brands. But even as we get scale, our endeavour would always be to provide fair compensation to our factories.