The biggest fraud in the clothing market currently, one that I hope to illustrate in relation to my understanding of the legal and political attributes of any business it that of poor material sourcing that has led many to be in outrage.
Fashion infringes upon the world in such a way with its ornate artistic cover, yet a sad truth of its derivative is the obligations many of these companies face when questioning where its physical products come from, sadly most of the time economic reasons drive this matter to be more negative.
According to the European Commission of textile and clothing, all garments have to be registered and fully labeled of their origin and other legal notes have to be enquired regarding material sourcing and quality of textiles such as its method of production.
(child laboured in textile weaving)
Child labour is the biggest cause of the legal challenges that fashion houses face when considering their clothing origins. Child labour accounts for 170 million people (11% of the worlds children population), this is massive within the ever-growing clothing world. Reasons for them being involved in the trade is that companies are evermore competitive and creating barriers to entry, they try and cut down on the costs of clothing to marginalise their profits. This with the urge for children in improvised countries to earn money, even if very little, means that demand for children becomes a necessity.
A lot of the controversial practices have been evoked from the development of the Asian Tigers, who attracted wealth and economy through the attraction they posed from leading developed countries to set up businesses in their own premises. The outsourcing of cheap labour meant that companies were more attracted to setting overseas and eventually these countries became the powerhouse to manufacturing and financial development.
(H&M labeled for their indecency to Myanmar children and their hard work)
H&M is one of the biggest users of child labour, although, in its own brief, it inspected the production facilities and found that 2 of its employees were ‘underage’. Myanmar has had one of the biggest fluctuations of overseas demand for garment production and many children are paid around 13 pence an hour, in a day this can be less than £1.5 (£1.06). This rapid decrease in producing raw materials has led to exports of outsourcing to be £787m between 2010 – 2014. ‘There are now more than 400 factories in the country, employing 350,000 people, 90% of them women’.
The ethical dilemma that is also posed is that larger firms such as H&M will have less consideration from governmental authorities considering it makes £16.4b in profit and £232b in sales meaning that its a fundamental asset to any economy, considering that its turnover is larger than the annual GDP of Vietnam (£216b). Furthermore, Myanmar itself has very low work ages in comparison to MEDCs (14 years of age) and therefore H&M was not acting out of illegal agenda. But allegations have been made on other companies such as Sports Direct, New Look, and Lonsdale.
Depending on the place in which materials are manufactured, completely determines the quality of the fashion brand and for low priced goods, sourcing inevitably has to be cheap.
(UK textile conditions)
Even when UK production costs are higher, fashion label River Island has been caught in paying UK employees £3, £4.20 lower than minimum wage as found in a channel 4 documentary. All responses were met with the issues of UK production costs, being higher and that UK producing would cause the company to create a loss.
Companies, therefore, are having to diversify and the outcome of this is the increased emphasis on marketing by the way these clothes are produced. Consumers are less interested in the material specifications, but more concerned about its whereabouts and method of production. This proved to be a really important consideration after the Rana Plaza disaster, where 1,135 garment workers were killed.
(Veras grandpa shoes – rubber is from sustainable fair-trade farms)
Companies changing their agenda to become more economically environmental using fair-trade resources such as Veras who use fair-trade rubber in the production of their shoes. This is the way forward for these fashion houses and eventually, with the moment of larger powerhouses, minorities and issues will be ironed with the likes of H&M making their clothes now from recycled old ones.
(Levi – saving the planet with 13 action steps towards fair production systems)
Chamberlain, G. (2018). How high street clothes were made by children in Myanmar for 13p an hour. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/05/child-labour-myanmar-high-street-brands [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].
Growth. (2018). Textiles and clothing legislation – Growth – European Commission. [online] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/fashion/textiles-clothing/legislation_en [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].
Labs.theguardian.com. (2018). Child labour in the fashion supply chain. [online] Available at: https://labs.theguardian.com/unicef-child-labour/ [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].
Make it British. (2018). Is making clothing in the UK really more expensive? – Make it British. [online] Available at: https://makeitbritish.co.uk/clothing/making-clothing-uk-really-expensive/ [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].
Saner, E. (2018). Sustainable style: will Gen Z help the fashion industry clean up its act?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/apr/25/sustainable-clothing-fashion-revolution-week-rana-plaza-emma-watson [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].
the Guardian. (2018). Fashion entrepreneurs: How to find a factory to make your products. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/sep/11/fashion-entrepreneurs-how-find-factory-make-products [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].
The Independent. (2018). 12 best sustainable fashion brands for women. [online] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/fashion-beauty/womens-clothing/best-sustainable-fashion-brands-women-clothing-ethical-eco-friendly-affordable-london-luxury-a7982316.html [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].