As high street shops begin opening their doors again, the shoppers descended, despite a scandal hitting the news about garment workers and their treatment during the pandemic. At least one quarter of garment workers in Bangladesh (the world’s second-largest clothing manufacturer after China) have been fired because of declining global orders amid the coronavirus crisis.

Furthermore, many of the high street shops people are headed into and giving their money to, have completely cancelled orders from suppliers to avoid payments for goods that have already been produced. Companies include brands such as Topshop and Urban Outfitters. Suppliers in garment-producing countries have faced order cancellations, reduced order volumes and extended payment terms, which have left many suppliers having to reduce operations or stop them altogether, unable to bear the financial burden. Other brands, such as Asos, have deferred rather than cancelled orders.

However, suppliers will still have to store them and wait to be paid until the brand decides whether to accept them, which presents the same cashflow problems. Many retailers are extending their payment terms to 120 days, meaning suppliers will have to wait for four months until they are paid. This has forced many suppliers to lay off or suspend millions of factory workers, often without pay and severance, pushing an already precarious group of workers to greater economic vulnerability.

Less obvious to those suffering from the pandemic in the West is the devastating impact the economic slowdown is having on the supply chain factories of Asia. There are fears that job losses could lead to hunger among the unemployed and their families. About a quarter of Bangladeshis already live below the poverty line. The minimum wage for Bangladeshi garment workers is about $96 a month!

Fast fashion is killing the planet and responsible for human rights violations. Most people can never seem to find anything to wear while looking at our overflowing closets. Every week, big chain corporations are releasing new clothing, new sales, and are finding new ways to convince the public that the clothes they purchased last week are not a trend, and that they need to buy new ones to keep up. With over 1 billion garments being produced annually, the fast fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter, following the oil industry. From landfills to greenhouse gas emissions, from chemical usage to wastewater, fast fashion is deceitfully intoxicating the planet.

In addition to the environmental issues surrounding the fashion industry, it also impacts on society with many children forced into labour and with many of the chemicals and dyes used in the industry having been found to pose a serious threat to human health. Garment workers are generally also paid below minimum wage and with no workers rights.

The #PayUp campaign formed in March 2020 out of the fashion industry’s catastrophic decision to refuse payment for completed clothing orders heading into the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign  has gone viral on social media and I urge you to look into the campaign, follow them on social media and start paying more attention to #whomadeyourclothes

Check their website here: