…Why you shouldn’t buy a T-Shirt for two Euros.
A new kind of vending machines has spread throughout the German capital. For no more than 2 euros, passers-by can take home a new T-Shirt – or better yet, a new mind-set. Watch the video and you’ll understand what we mean.
The machines are part of a campaign that began on 24 April in honour of the Rana Plaza tragedy. When the building collapsed it killed more than one thousand workers and left another 2,500 injured. They were manufacturing garments for the Western market – clothes which are sold largely under European brands that make use of exploited labour in countries with looser regulations for profit. With this in mind, the Fashion Revolution Day initiative was created to raise awareness of consumer role not only in boycotting unfair trade, but also in demanding better accountability from retailers. They suggest the #whomademyclothes hashtag as one of the simple ways of pushing information forward.
Co-founder Carry Somers, better explains the initiative: “The fashion industry supply chain is fractured and producers have become faceless – We don’t know the true cost of the things we buy”. Numbers are impressive: in Bangladesh, the current minimum earnings are around 61 euros, while estimated monthly living costs are of around 93 euros. Or, in practical terms, “an additional 0.25c per t-shirt would ensure living wages are met!”.
The importance of this campaign is particularly relevant since a recent report on the fashion industry released by the Australian NGO Baptist World Aid. It states shocking statistics including that 91 per cent of companies don’t know the source of their cotton; 75 per cent don’t know where all their fabrics come from; 85 per cent of companies don’t pay workers a basic wage to meet their living costs; and 48 per cent don’t trace where their clothes are made.
Orsola de Castro, fellow co-founder of Fashion Revolution, is more upfront: if the situation is really to improve, brand stores have to step up and better monitor their supply chain. “If companies don’t know how and where their products are made, then there’s no way for them to ensure their workers are protected”, she says. Reporting initiatives are not only important, but also profitable if carried out honestly within a marketing strategy: “it shows a company’s willingness to be held accountable for its supply chain and this builds up public trust”.
In total, 70 countries other than Germany have carried out the campaign.
Words by Scheila Farias Silveira
Picture by rijans