Ignorance is Not Bliss: The Below the Belt Truth of Fashion Production
When purchasing the latest trends, on the high street and online, most of us don’t give a second thought as to where exactly the products we buy actually come from. For the majority, involvement in the buying and selling of goods is just another regular activity- whether it be in the form of fashion, cosmetics or food. We are the consumers that brands rely upon on a daily basis. But who else do such brands rely on for keeping business alive?
Recent investigations (BBC Panorama) uncovered the truth behind fashion production for major and iconic British brands Marks and Spencer and leading online fashion retailer ASOS. The BBC investigators were shocked and appalled to discover hundreds of Syrian refugees in Turkey working in poor conditions to produce the fashion that Britain wears. Reports state many of the workers were illegal migrants and that young children had been working extensive hours, operating dangerous machinery and using harmful chemicals to bleach fabrics. Panorama reported that the clothing labels found in the factories suggested that they were also suppliers for huge household names such as Next, Zara and Mango.
Representatives from all of the brands denied awareness of the activities taking place within their business chains and publically apologised for the damage and exploitation caused to the factory workers. Yet stories such as this continue to emerge. From the investigation, one 15-year-old worker was found to be working 12 hours a day ironing clothes for them to be shipped to the UK.
Organisations such as the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) continue to campaign for the protection of animals in the production of fashion and beauty. Whilst these organisations encourage consumers not to buy products from favourite make up brands such as Bobby Brown, Estee Lauder, Maybelline, M.A.C and L’Oréal in the hope to send a powerful message to consumers, it may seem as though we are left with little choice in the market.
Fear not. With designers such as Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood’s continuing ‘animal free’ fashion campaigns and successes, we can be inspired to think twice before heading to the checkout. Look to brands such as LUSH, NYX, Urban Decay and The Body Shop for high street cosmetics without the price of exploitation.