Ethical fashion is an umbrella term to describe fashion that has been designed and produced in ways that respect the rights of garment workers and consider its impact on the environment.
More than just fashion, ethical consumption means that whenever you buy clothes, you see yourself as part of the global community— a community that includes 50 million garment workers who often receive less than a living wage and work in unjust conditions.
But for many workers in the global fashion industry, this is not their lived experience. The global fashion industry is a key actor in responding – and contributing – to major challenges these workers face, including modern slavery, forced and child labour, and climate change.
Many fashion companies still struggle to commit to worker empowerment. The industry is among the top five for modern slavery risk, and forced and child labour continue to provide a serious concern in global supply chains.
Only 15 percent of companies have a public commitment to pay workers a living wage.
Supply chain tracing remains one of the fashion industry’s biggest challenges. Limited visibility across the production process, from cotton farms and fabric mills to production subcontractors, means a complex supply chain and high risk of worker exploitation.
And COVID has exacerbated this risk for these workers. Without a living wage, job security and fair working conditions, garment workers are at risk as companies often put profits above their workers’ livelihoods and welfare.
Who, then, speaks, for garment workers and their families? Every consumer.
The United Nations defines poverty as more than the lack of income and access to necessary resources. Poverty affects all parts of a person’s life including their health, education, work, and choice of opportunities in life.
Several factors, including unemployment, social exclusion and vulnerability to disasters, and diseases, create the conditions for poverty. Ten percent of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty, making less than $1.90 a day. This group often includes garment workers, like those in Bangladesh where the minimum daily wage is a little over 70 cents AUD.
While the first United Nations sustainable development goal is to end poverty in all its form by 2030, little progress has been made to improve supply chain practices and protect workers.
There’s still a long way to go until the fashion industry is actively working to end extreme poverty. And for the first time in over 20 years, there has been an increase in extreme poverty, due primarily to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And yet, at Baptist World Aid, we continue to dream of a world where poverty has ended and all people—including garment workers—flourish, without fear of exploitation.
At Baptist World Aid, we long for a world without poverty and exploitation as God intends.
Because the global fashion industry has a significant impact on people and the planet, your shopping choices can make a difference.
Do the clothes you buy mean a fair job that provides for a worker, their family and community?
Or do they create environmental damage, child labour, forced labour and exploitation?
We can all affect change in global supply chains.
When you choose to shop ethically using our Ethical Fashion Guide, your purchasing behaviour speaks volumes to fashion companies, showing them that you care about the people making those clothes and the planet affected from industry practices. And when you support Baptist World Aid, you’re helping us to create a better, fairer world for garment workers and families living in poverty.