The impact of COVID-19 on the people who make our clothes

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As the world faces this pandemic in unified isolation, we at Fashion Revolution are focusing on how the unfolding situation is affecting the people who make our clothes. Retailers are shutting their doors around the world, encouraging their customers to shop online instead. Yet the reality is that as we are forced to stay in our homes many of us are financially burdened by layoffs or new childcare responsibilities, and the desire to buy new clothes feels like a distant dream.

While we have been encouraging an end to overconsumption for many years, we also know that in the face of this unexpected halt in manufacturing, it is the most vulnerable, lowest paid people in the fashion supply chain that feel the worst effects. Industrial, the global trade union which works to give workers around the world a voice, says that millions of garment makers have already lost their jobs as a result of the virus and have no access to social or financial safety nets to help them weather this storm.

“Bangladeshi garment manufacturer Mostafiz Uddin reminds us, “Poverty is a killer too, and many more people die from poverty than from COVID-19”.

In the global fashion industry, brands typically pay their suppliers weeks or even months after delivery, rather than upon order. This means that suppliers usually pay upfront for the materials or fibres used to make the products brand buy from them. In response to the pandemic, many major fashion brands and retailers are cancelling orders and stopping payments for orders already placed, even when the work has already been done, taking no responsibility for the impact this has on the people working in their supplychains. Factories are left with little choice but to destroy or keep hold of unwanted goods already made and lay off their workers in droves.

Meanwhile, in this current crisis, we believe that our capacity for empathy is strengthened by our shared global experience. While we may be stuck indoors, using social media our voices can still be amplified, especially when we speak up together. That’s why we’re asking our global community to be louder than ever. To ask #WhoMadeMyClothes? and demand that fashion brands protect the workers in their supply chain just as they would their own employees, especially during this unprecedented global health and economic crisis.
If we do nothing, the fashion industry will simply return to business as usual when this is all over. Instead, let’s come together as a revolution and build a new system that values the wellbeing of people and planet over profit. This means that right now we should stand together to protect and support the people who make our clothes.

Authored by-

Muskan Mangtani – Intern

SDPS Women’s college Indore
fashion design edexcel 4th sem 2018-20