Friday, 10 May 2013

Clothing Factory Conditions; Who is Responsible?

With a recent focus in the news on factory standards I’ve been thinking a lot about where our clothes actually come from and whose fault it is that people are still working in such horrific standards. Is it simply just bad standards of build or does it go much deeper? I believe it does. I think perhaps the responsibility is shared somewhat…but what exactly can we do?

Let’s face facts, Primark supplies fast, cheap fashion that isn’t exactly the greatest of quality but feeds the demand of shoppers looking for a quick fix of the latest trends at a small price compared to other designer and high street shops. We have all been guilty of shopping in Primark and other such budget stores  looking for the latest trends and items we know we won’t get much wear out of, but does that make us to blame for the way such items are sourced? Or is it up to Primark as a business on the whole to find a more responsible way of manufacturing items in bulk? Quite often the majority of us are quite happy to be ignorant of where our clothes are manufactured, but look at the labels of most of your favourite garments and you’ll more than likely see they are produced in countries such as Bangladesh, China, Vietnam and India. Such countries are considered as less economically developed which means they are susceptible to providing cheap labour in horrendous working conditions, fuelling poverty due to inequalities between factory owners and factory workers. I’m sure we’ve all heard the term ‘sweatshop’ but do many of us actually care or think about what it means when our clothes have been produced here? Unfortunately our clothes are likely to have been made by workers in horrific conditions, many of which who are children. So perhaps we could be a little more responsible. There are many fair trade brands that are ‘socially responsible’ and whilst they are a little more expensive, perhaps it is worth the cost.  I believe even ASOS, Topshop and even Marks and Spencer’s have begun to stock some fair-trade items which is a big step forward!

But is it our problem? It can be said that it is the country that the items are sourced from that are at blame for not providing suitable working conditions. Poverty at the end of the day is to do with politics, and I believe today’s politics is too concerned with self-interest. While rich countries continue to make decisions that only benefit themselves, others in not so fortunate positions are suffering due to these decisions. We wouldn’t have cheap, affordable fast fashion without these countries, but should we be taking advantage of that? We shouldn’t be taking our business elsewhere as surely this benefits workers in no way whatsoever, but the current conditions surely can’t continue.

Will you think twice next time you pick up a cute dress at a bargain price? Or do you think it’s part of a wider problem that is down to governments and charities working together to provide better standards? The argument goes far deeper than this but I thought it was an interesting subject to bring up and something I don’t often see addressed in the fashion blogging world. It would be great to hear your opinions! 

Some links if interested:

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