You have a voice – a powerful voice, as a consumer in the fashion industry. Collectively, we as consumers can impact long-term trends like expanding eco-friendly and ethical fashion options through our purchasing power. But we can also use our voices to let brands know we’re watching, and that we expect transparency to discourage unethical or unjust practices. And it doesn’t cost you a penny.
Labor Day weekend means sales galore. But I challenge you to take action this weekend to let brands know you expect garment workers to be paid a living wage. The Fashion Revolution makes it easy for you. Simply go to the Fashion Revolution website here. They have the email already prepared for you, so just select a brand, and type in your name and email address. Then send!
I own clothing from all of the brands that I sent emails to, and I would love to see them commit to ethical practices. The dress I’m wearing in the post image above, for example, is from Nordstrom. It was not sustainably or ethically made. Here is a list of all the brands I contacted:
- Michael Kors
- Urban Outfitters
It only takes a minute out of your day. Submit the email now to let brands know you’re paying attention – and you expect garment workers to be treated fairly!
…And while you’re at it, subscribe to the Fashion Revolution podcast on iTunes.
UPDATE…I heard back from two out of the ten brands I sent emails to. So, a 20% response rate. I heard back from ASOS and Nordstrom regarding initiatives the companies are taking in order to protect workers rights and give them a voice to collectively bargain. I’ve included their response below!
“ASOS views ethical trade as being our responsibility to ensure that every worker in our supply chain is respected and protected. By this, we mean that everyone in our supply chain should be safe at work, financially secure and respected by their employers and fellow workers. To achieve this, we set high ethical standards, assess and support suppliers to help them meet our standards and collaborate with others to bring about long-lasting improvements in supply-chain working conditions.
Our PLC board approved a new Ethical Trade Strategy in January 2017, setting out our long-term vision for furthering respect for workers’ rights across our supply chain. Our strategy is two-pronged, and focuses on improving our business practices to mitigate adverse human rights impacts in our supply chain from the top-down, while empowering workers to realise their fundamental rights from the bottom-up.
We think workers’ rights to organise and bargain collectively are an essential step towards their enjoyment of other labour rights. We recognise the barriers to freedom of association that exist in our sourcing regions, and are working to overcome them by building relationships with trade unions both at the global and local level.
Some of the steps we are taking to promote freedom of association and worker voice in our supply chain include:
- Gaining greater visibility over current levels of unionisation in our supply chain by building our in-country ethical trade team capacity and developing relationships with local workers’ organisations;
- Working through the ACT initiative, which we believe to be a ground-breaking agreement between global brands, retailers and trade unions to achieve living wages for garment workers through industry-wide collective bargaining; and
- Extending our staff hotline to all workers in our supply chain so they can raise concerns anonymously.”
“Nordstrom has a long-standing commitment to doing what we can to protect the rights and safety of the people who manufacture the products we sell in our stores. The vast majority of the products we carry come from outside vendors. Though we don’t have direct control over their supply chains, we do have Partnership Guidelines, which we require each of our vendors to agree to in order to do business with us. These guidelines address a number of issues, including requiring our partners to respect workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, in accordance with ILO Conventions 87, 98 and 154.
A small percentage of the products we carry in our stores are from our private label brands, through Nordstrom Product Group (NPG). Any factory that does business with NPG is also required to adhere to our Partnership Guidelines. Beyond that, our NPG team has a number of other requirements in place when it comes to the factories we work with. For example, we require factories to respect workers’ rights to join organizations of their choosing.
We have a comprehensive monitoring and auditing process to ensure the factories we partner with are continuing to meet our standards. If at any point we find issues, we work closely with the factory to address them. If an audit reveals a severe issue, Nordstrom will immediately stop production with the factory until the matter is fully resolved. If the factory is unable or unwilling to take the necessary steps to resolve such an issue, we’ll make a decision to end our business with them.
Beyond these requirements, our NPG team also supports worker empowerment through partnership with and membership in organizations like the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Business for Social Responsibility. If you are interested in learning more, check out our Human Rights and Factory Partners page.”