Due to the climate crisis, which is being talked about louder recently, we had been taking a closer look at the fashion industry. What does it have in common with climate change? What percentage of society is aware of the havoc that it is wreaking on the environment and how it might hurt people?
We'll start with a simple calculation. Have you ever wondered who makes the most money from the clothes you buy? How do you divide 20 or 30 PLN which you pay for the T-shirt among producers, suppliers, distributors, employees...?
Clean Clothes Campaign Report
Let’s take a look at the illustration made by Clean Clothes Campaign. We are talking here about a T-shirt, which you can buy at the popular high street shop for 59,90 PLN, made in Bangladesh from very poor quality fabric – it’s cost is only 12% of the final price – 7,20 PLN. Brand’s profit is exactly the same amount of money. Indirect costs, starting from the transportation, ending with the operating costs of the company are all together only 16.4% - around 9.80 PLN!
Who will earn the most on the shirt you buy? Store, imposing a margin of almost 60%. Paying for the T-shirt 59.90 PLN, 35.20 PLN stays in store.
Made in Bangladesh
Only 0,6% of the final price – that is what the seamstress in Bangladesh gets for sewing a T-shirt. The minimum wage for people working in fashion industry in Bangladesh has increased over past few years as a result of numerous strikes and protests. In July this year it was raised up to 8 000 tk (Bengali) per month for the lowest of the seven working classes of clothing sector. What employees have been fighting for is 16 000 tk a month, so they could live a dignified life. What they got is only half of it, even though they often work 10, 12 or even 16 hours a day.
I hope you are now wondering what you can do about it as an individual. You can do more than you think. Avoiding high street shopping is one thing, but we can also give producers a clear, loud message that we won’t accept their methods anymore. How? By asking questions. Questions that will make them uncomfortable and will force to be more transparent. You can write an e-mail, you can send a message on Facebook or Instagram. So many possibilities! You can also join some movements, like Fashion Revolution Week (more about it here). Producers are the ones who have a power and can make some direct changes. Our thing, as consumers is to let them know, that this is what we expect.
Buying clothes in chain stores is easy and fun. Great choice, newest trends, low prices. Tempting, right? But what stands behind all of it? And is it worth it? Remember that you have a choice and choose wisely. Conscious shopping is not difficult at all and does not have to cost a lot (second hand shopping is a much better option!). Try to find small, local stores, offering high quality products - there are plenty of them (for example our shoes)! When it comes to clothing and footwear follow the rule “less but good quality”. Minimalism is chic!
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