In the past few weeks, Boohoo was exposed for massively underpaying garment workers in Leicester, as well as working in appalling conditions in the middle of a global pandemic where the city was widely affected.
Boohoo had high share price not too long ago, but now it’s long gone. One of the brands major shareholders, Standard Life Aberdeen, has pulled out an estimated 3.5% of their shares in the company. With all the accusations flying around, Boohoo have promised a full investigation into these allegations.
However, we already know from previous tragedies that this goes further beyond Boohoo and Leicester. Labour Behind the Label is a UK based advocacy organisation who published a report about supplier factories used by Boohoo last month, and it investigated garment workers’ rights worldwide. Now it is another repeat of the same horrific actions during their twenty-year campaign exposing what happens in the fast fashion supply chain all over the world. With the media publishing more about Boohoo’s supply chain, it is clearly highlighting the issues that come with an industry that is underregulated and often doesn’t have to deal with accountability. Now there are calls for brands reviewing their practices and for tougher legislation.
Boohoo sourced clothes from Leicester because it allowed them to be more flexible and always have new stock to keep up with the latest trends. With the low prices and fast turnaround times that are included in contracts, they still fail to meet ethical standards and have contributed to lower wages and unsafe working conditions.
The British government published a report last year investigation fashion consumption and sustainability, Boohoo was named in this and is a fresh reminder of why the modern slavery act in British law needs to be refreshed, as well as companies being held responsible to make sure there is no modern day slavery within their supply chain. In America, the Garment Worker Centre is co-sponsoring a bill that would protect garment workers’ wages and safety at work and covers the whole supply chain. If more companies in the supply chain can be held accountable, it gives workers a better chance at life. The bill will be presented in the California state assembly this month, if it is successful then it would also ensure workers are paid fair wages by the hour, rather than how many garments they finish.
Consumer responsibility also plays a role in this. It is speculated that living through a global pandemic, might have had an effect on people’s attitudes and priorities, that could have an impact on the industry. Some people are calling for brands who are trying to make a better effort to do the right thing, should be rewarded. If consumers were able to demand better standards for food, and farmers who produce free range eggs for example are rewarded, then they should be demanding for this standard of quality with their own clothes.
The world has a way to go to solve the humanitarian damage caused by fast fashion, but what do you think the solution could be?