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Fashion Named as One of Five Key Industries Enabling Modern Day Slavery


In a recent report by the Walk Free Foundation, the fashion industry was named as one of the five main sectors responsible for enabling modern day slavery.

The report, which also named personal technology, sugar cane, fishing, and cocoa, stated that the countries with the highest prevalence of modern day slavery are Eritrea, North Korea and Burundi.

The fashion industry’s manufacturing process has previously come under scrutiny, with particular attention paid to child labour and sweatshops. This issue gained particular attention last year, when it was discovered that children as young as 14 were working in sweatshops in Myanmar for as little as 13 pence an hour.

The legal working age in Myanmar is 15, and the legal minimum wage is 26 pence an hour. Often, these children are working in hazardous conditions, a fact which is not lost on those running the factories. It has been reported that when buyers come into the factories to look around, the children are told not to come into work on that particular day.

It is estimated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that currently 11% of the world’s children are in situations which deprive them of their right to go to school without interference from work. The figures are quite startling, with the ILO going on to state that currently around the world, 170 million children are engaged in child labour, with many making textiles and garments to satisfy the demand of consumers in Europe, the US, and beyond.

On top of this, findings from the Global Slavery Index for 2018 estimate that just over 40 million people are currently being held as modern day slaves, tied to their servitude by forced marriage, deception, threats and intimidation.

Consumers can help to combat this by researching suppliers and their ethical standards. A good resource for doing this is Common Objective, a website which lists a number of ethical and sustainable suppliers and some of the brands that they work with.

Retailers have been criticised in the past for a supposed “race to the bottom”. This is the premise that retailers cut standards in favour of their bottom line and often at the expense of workers’ rights and safety. The price for cheap clothing, as is all too often seen, comes at the cost of those people making the garments.

It is worth mentioning that a number of big retailers have shifted toward ethical and sustainable fashion in recent years, from ruling out fur in their fashion lines to committing to transparency when it comes to their supply chains and production process.

This has been in response to companies like Patagonia, which has always been committed to ethical and sustainable clothing, and in doing so, has gained itself a loyal and committed consumer base in an age when consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the impacts of their buying choices.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning how to make garments in a safe, professional and ethical environment, the Fashion Capital Fashion Technology Academy may be able to help you. There, you can learn about making garments and gain accredited quality qualifications and apprenticeships ranging between levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

For enquiries, please email training@fashioncapital.co.uk

By Callum Cliffe

Related articles:

Modern Day Slavery Alive & Well in Garment Manufacturing…But It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way

Livia Firth – Talks Sustainable Fashion

Fashion Question Time at the Houses of Parliament

Child Labour Free Visit FashionCapital

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