This question was posed in 2016 by the Dutch trend forecaster Li Edelkoort, at Voices, a gathering of fashion-industry innovators organized by The Business of Fashion.
The fast fashion industry has long been following a business model that is rooted in unfairness. Providing us with the latest fashion trends at unsustainably cheap prices at the expense of people who make the clothes. We’ve known for a long time now that fast-fashion workers receive very low wages and work in inhumane conditions.
The coronavirus pandemic created an economic pressure, plunging the fashion industry into a crisis that exposed, once again, the inequality pervading many corners of the globalized world.
The world faced factory closures, layoffs and the refusal of foreign buyers to continue to pay worker’s wages while business was suspended, threatening the livelihoods of millions of worldwide garment workers that were already on a battle against a deadly disease.
Almost 80% of garment workers, many making clothes for some of the world’s biggest fashion brands, are going hungry due to cancelled orders and while some retailers have agreed to pay for them in full, others are still refusing.
The solution shouldn’t be cancelling contracts, moving manufacturing to local factories, or replacing humans with robots, but to dedicate meaningful resources to the improvement of working conditions for the sector’s most essential workers: people who make our clothes.
Garment workers who work for fast-fashion brands already live in poverty, with the COVID-19 crisis many have lost the little income they had with no protection to fall back on. If you'd like to support garment workers and other people across the world pushed into poverty you can donate our Fighting Poverty appeal below. Your donation will be divided amongst 7 top organisations fighting to eradicate poverty across the world.