Friday, 27 November 2020

Could Fast Fashion Brands Pay their Workers a Living-Wage and Produce Affordable Clothes? Absolutely

ISTO breakdown their prices - via the Know The Origin website

An argument sometimes made in favour of Fast Fashion brands is affordability. It's really important that clothes can be affordable. But does making fashion affordable mean that garment workers can not be payed a fair wage?

There are an increasing number of transparent ethical brands that publish price breakdown's of their products. Looking at the breakdown made be realise that it would be possible for brands, such as Pretty Little Thing, to easily pay a living wage, should they wish...

ISTO are a brand who aspire to make ethical fashion affordable and are transparent about the pricing of their products. One of their organic t-shirts costs 9.03 to make and is sold at retail for 28 (traditional retail 80). This is their breakdown of the products cost:

Materials: 4.30,  Packaging: 1.74,  Labour: 3.10,  Labels: 0.14,  Transport: 0.01

Despite an awareness that living wages differ in countries, I was surprised at how low the cost of an ethical product could be! 

If Missguided think it is ok to pay workers in their Leicester factory (UK) less than half the legal minimum wage (a factory which they have control over) then how much are workers in countries such as Bangladesh paid? 

The organisation Clean Clothes breaks down the cost of a 29 t-shirt of which they determine 0.6% (just 0,18 euros) goes to the worker. 

Research has shown that customers are willing to pay a few more pounds for ethical (and sustainable) products. Brands can pay workers a living wage and still make their products affordable. We just need to look at the likes of Lucy & Yak or Know the Origin to see that values and affordability do not have to be mutually exclusive. 

Paying a fair living wage would eat into a brands' profit the tiniest amount! They would still have a large turnover and the worker would be paid fairly for their time and skills. I am sure that, making $1 billion a year, Boohoo CEO and PLT CEO's Mahmud Kamani and Umar Kamani wouldn't even notice the change. Brands have nothing to loose by tracing their supply chains and making sure workers are paid, but workers have everything to gain. 

It's Black Friday today and I couldn't write all of this without mentioning that Pretty Little Thing are having a 99% off sale today. Some clothes are being sold for 4p. It is shocking that a brand is happy to practically give their clothes away but completely resist the idea of paying their workers a living wage. This is unjustifiable. It is also worth noting that in order to sell so many products at such low cost, they must have produced an unthinkably high volume of them. This Black Friday, if you choose to shop, please support second hand, sustainable and particularly small and local stores :)

Further information on Black Friday and sustainability:

- 9 Ways To Disrupt Black Friday

- @venetialamanna

                                                                                Beccy x

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