It’s 2018 and sweatshops are still an issue. Many brands that use sweatshops believe that if we stop talking about sweatshop and child-labour issues then they can keep using them. However, it is also sometimes unclear how many brands actually use these ‘cheap and easy’ methods of clothing making. In the last year there have been governmental strides around to world to try and abolish the use of sweatshops, but unfortunately many still prevail through loop holes and plain illegality.
Adidas’ use of sweatshop workers was discovered when they became the official sports-wear partner of the London Olympics. After this was announced, the company was investigated, and it was discovered that the company was using overseas sweatshops to create this famous brand.
This company has been accused of using child-labour in one of their factories in Turkey, with children as young as 15 working 12 hour days for the company. Similarly, ASOS were accused of their South Yorkshire warehouse implementing ‘workhouse’ like production lines.
As well as Disney clothing, lots of the Disney toys and other memorabilia available in Disney stores and Disneyland/world has been made in a sweatshop. Disney however does not own the sweatshops their clothing is made in, instead other shops who use the Disney brand own the sweatshops.
Forever 21 is a brand that many customers boycotted because of their use of sweatshops. Currently the brand is being accused of using ‘sweatshop like factories’ on the outskirts of L.A. Cosmopolitan magazine reported in 2016 that one of the factories in L.A was paying its staff only $4 an hour.
GAP promotes ethical clothing and materials however for over a decade now has had an issue with the brands clothing being made in a Cambodian sweatshop. This kind of work in Cambodia is sometimes favoured over working in the rice paddies and although the pay and conditions are bad, they are better than being in the sun all day. In 2007 GAP faced a massive backlash over video recordings showing a young boy sewing clothing for the brand, and whilst the child labour might have ended, the use of sweatshops has not.
In 2013, H&M promised to have all of its workers on a living wage and out of sweatshops. However it is now 2018 and along with falling profits there has not been any news reported as to whether H&M have kept their promise. It has been reported that in their Bangladesh sweatshop H&M pays their employees roughly $87 (US) a month, which is a legal wage – but isn’t a living wage.
Primark famously uses sweatshops and has been quite open in discussing the low prices of the clothing. Many customers boycotted the brand after the allegations were made, however the brand is still expanding and is now operating in America as well as the UK.
This ethical and expensive brand was under fire after it was discovered that they were using ‘sweatshop like conditions’ in the garment district of L.A. This is one of the brands that use sweatshops that is very popular with young people, but with high prices it is usually quite exciting to be able to buy from Urban Outfitters. It is often assumed that by paying a higher price, everyone involved in the clothing is being treated correctly. However Urban Outfitters were ousted for their use of poor working conditions and wages.
Victoria Secret’s use of sweatshops could be described as worse than some others. Not only are the works paid very little, but they have also been reported to be foreign nationals from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka working illegally in Jordan. This means that the workers do not have residency and cannot really leave the compound where the clothing factories are without fear of being apprehended. These workers are given three minutes to sew a bikini that will sell for £20.
Zara is one of the brands that use sweatshops in Istanbul, and their use of sweatshops came to light when ‘help’ notes were found sewn into clothing. These notes were then investigated and it was discovered that a factory in Istanbul was forced to close and left its employees without work and pay for the jobs they had already done.