Fashion has become one of the biggest industries in this generations. Generally in the cities, us women became more demanding in our appearances while the society scrutinized our way of life and the way we dressed and present ourself to the public eyes. If one of us aren't trying our best to become a so-called 'fashionista' like the world wants us to, we're basically an outcast. Or at least that's what some of us feels.
Although it is nice to see some high street brands are selling fashion shirts as low as 6 pounds, to be honest, many of us didn't actually know the dirty secret's behind the making of these clothing. I myself was shocked to find out after watching an episode of "Dispatches : Fashion's dirty secrets" yesterday on channel 4 (you can watch this episode online just click on the link). The world is so demanding that the suppliers subcontracted out much of the work. In this episode, under cover dispatches discovered the working conditions in clothing manufacturing units in the UK.
This come to disgusted me to find out about children and adult slavery who had been sold on bonded labour to meet the fashion demand in develop country such as UK and US. What disgusted me more is that this dirty secrets is hidden in hundreds of cramped, dusty workshop in third world country like India where an estimated 100,000 children works 14 hours a day. The largely muslim slums in Delhi's suburbs could not be more remote from the glamour of the catwalk. In narrow lanes with open sewers, there are hundreds of one-room workshops, in each of which up to 15 children are forced to work long days for less than 3p an hour. That's basically about 15 cents an hour in Malaysian ringgit. Gosh!
Some of the children had been taken out from school from India's poorest states and bought to Delhi by their families. They sits on rough thin carpets, stitching tiny glittering beads into pattern on pink chiffons stretched tout on wooden frames. They work from 9am to 9pm with an hour lunch break, 1 day off a week and sleeps on the floor.
What's worst is when the clothes are dispatched to the shops, they sell it at a higher price and makes at least a 1000% profits. This sadden me beyond words knowing that these children are missing so much throughout their life and education and basically their future. But yet, the CEOs are becoming super rich in the end.
I personally as a women loves fashion to pieces. But it never came up to my mind who made all these high street clothing. Watching the episode has made me became more conscious in choosing what I'm buying. Recently, I got to know about people tree. An Organization/company has a joint venture with actress Emma Watson that sells high quality fashion clothing and at the same time practices Fair trade business. When we talked about fair trade, banana and coffee came into mind. It's not just foods can be fair trade but fashion can be one of it. And I very much like the idea.
Check out Emma Watson's video in Bangladesh for their fair trade business visits in people tree website.
I praised their effort in making fashion a fair trade business. If something like that were to start in Malaysia, they'll definitely have my full support. Of course people tree won't be having a large margin profits, but at least they are ethical.
Ref : Most of the facts and figures is taken from The Sunday Times, october 2006.