It’s so easy to assume that just because something claims to be sustainably and ethically made, it really is...
Modern day slavery is still very much apparent in today’s day and age, and you may be surprised to learn that it’s all around us. And yes, this includes across the Western world. It’s quite literally happening wherever you are right now.
Sure, some changes are definitely being made in the fashion world, and more clothes are indeed being created from sustainable resources. But when it comes to who's making the clothes? Well, this is something that many still overlook, ignore, or are painfully naive to. Don’t be one of those brands.
If you’re looking to have a truly ethical (as well as sustainable) brand, then it’s vital that you ensure that your supply chain treats it's workers no less than we’d expect to be treated. This includes safe working conditions, fair pay, normal working hours and no child labour.
This article sets out to explain just how present slavery still is in the fashion world and uncover some dark truths. Sadly, slavery is ever existent within sustainable clothing production as well. Just because something is made from (or claims to be made from) sustainable fabrics, it doesn’t mean that it is being created in humane conditions.
Read on to find out how you can spot signs of slavery, and what you can do to ensure this doesn’t take place within your own brand.
What is modern day slavery?
Modern day slavery is defined by Anti Slavery as "the severe exploitation of other people for personal or commercial gain".
Painfully, the fashion world is one of the largest culprits for modern day slavery.
Many are aware of the exploitation of garment workers in more deprived countries, but you might be surprised to learn that slavery takes place even where workers' rights laws are in place. This includes the UK, the USA and other Western countries.
When we think of garment workers, it's easy to assume that they are treated as fairly as any other profession, but the harsh reality is something quite different.
Many garment workers in third world or poorer countries, without laws to protect them, suffer unimaginably on a daily basis.
Factory's are oftentimes unsafe, with heavy machinery and too many workers weighing down the structure of the building. In the case of the Rana Plaza disaster, this resulted in the collapse of the poorly constructed building and the death of thousands.
Many garment workers in these regions have no other option but to endure the cruelty and abuse that faces them on a daily (and nightly basis), as they work excruciatingly long hours. In addition to this, it's estimated that 1 in 4 garment workers are children. Just take a moment to digest that...
Garment workers suffering slavery in the West are also controlled by violence or threat of deportation, and are oppressed and left with no option but to continue this cruel life until they're no longer of use to their "employer".
Disturbingly, sustainable clothing is made all over the world, and often in non-ethical factories, so please don't be fooled by thinking that your garments are 100% guilt free just because they carry the trendy new label of "sustainable".
Read on to learn how you can spot modern day slavery and what to do if you suspect you've encountered it...
Spotting signs of slavery and
what to do if you suspect it
We can all agree that there is no place in today's world for modern day slavery and it should well and truly be abolished. But how do we spot the signs of slavery? And what can we do to stop it?
The signs of slavery are oftentimes subtle, but keep your eyes peeled and do something if you see someone who:
Appears to be controlled and whose reluctant to engage with other people
Who has no ID, passport, or personal verification
Who has little to no personal items
Who wears the same clothes on a daily basis
Appears scared, threatened, abused or withdrawn
Is picked up and dropped off (often at unusual hours)
If you suspect that you've encountered a person who is being mistreated, there are things you can do to report this and hopefully make a positive change.
However, the most important thing to remember is never to confront them directly. This could quite possibly endanger the individual even further and cause them more pain and suffering.
For suspected modern day slavery in the United Kingdom, here are some of your contact options:
Modern Slavery Helpline: 08000 121 700
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority: 0800 432 0804
The Emergency Services: 999
Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111
For those who might suspect slavery but aren't living in the UK, please look online for similar resources in your area and report it.
Where can i make sustainable clothing with absolutely no slavery involved?
Modern day slavery is something we stand wholeheartedly and unequivocally against, and was one of the fundamental reasons we developed Masala Threads.
When you choose services from Masala Threads, you are choosing to ensure your brand is truly ethical and sustainable.
Every single person we work with is treated humanely, and all our sustainable clothing is organic. Make the right choice. Build a brand you're truly proud of with the help of Masala Threads.
For more information, and to make any requests, feel free to book in a 30 minute discovery slot with our fabulous founder who will walk you through your options!