End Slavery in the Fashion Industry

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Ever wonder how or where your clothes are being made? Well its not all sequins and frills, the conditions that your clothes are being made in are horrendous. Brands such as Ally Fashion, Pavement, Forever 21 and even big brands such as Nike have their products manufactured by people and CHILDREN who are being payed next to nothing, being severely abused and are working in very dangerous, unhealthy conditions. These poor children and their families can't even afford to eat and they are being exposed to extremely dangerous conditions and they are also being scammed into these jobs, being forced to sign contracts in different languages leading them to be stuck in these jobs for a really long time as they can't afford to leave. The working conditions are so dangerous that people have been killed. While all this is going on behind the scenes, these big brands will do whatever it takes to hide this and make sure they are making money. This is wrong and we need to make a change. No more secrets, we want the truth. 

By signing this petition you agree that as a customer you want to know where your clothes, shoes and accessories are coming from and you believe that this needs to be a priority for companies to make sure their buyers are informed. 

The message we are sending to the companies:  

  • You need to make it a priority that your customers know where their apparel is being made.   
  • You need to ensure that what you are selling is being made in a safe and ethical environment. 

Pavement United Brands 
Have you ever heard of Pavement United Brands? The clothing store everyone wanted to shop at when they were younger? Well, in case you are unaware, they are the company behind ‘Gum’, ‘Lemonade’, ‘Pom Pom’, ‘Scram’, ‘Wax Bros’, ‘Zom-B’ and ‘Pavement’. Pavement United Brands received an automatic D- to F grade on their labour practices, a grade which is extremely disappointing and basically represents a fail. This grade was decided upon by the Baptist World Aid worldwide fashion survey as they did not participate in the survey, and have been known to have a “lack of transparency with labour right management systems”, according to the Baptist Mission of Victoria. Sources have stated that they are not paying their employees the minimum living wage, meaning their employees are barely surviving off the money they earn, and that there was no manufacturing, input or raw material traceability, as well as no monitoring of these things. Although there has been limited evidence to show Pavement United Brands employs forced labour, it would have been believed that such a popular company would have been able to take the time out to be involved with a major worldwide survey regarding both big and small companies’ labour practices. This makes their company appear more suspicious as they are not as transparent and public with their labour practices, and this also leaves a mark on their reputation. However, they try to justify this on their website which states, “we acknowledge that certain ethical supply chain research organisations have given Pavement United Brands a D- grade, however we would like to be clear that this is NOT due to unethical practices on our behalf. These ratings are awarded based on information provided by retailers to said organisation in extensive surveys and research documents. As a relatively small business with very limited resources, we simply have not had the time or money to dedicate to pulling together this documentation. When this information is not provided by a retailer, an automatic D- Grade is awarded.” Stephen Meurs, the owner of Pavement United Brands, gained $29 million by selling the popular stationary company, ‘Smiggle’, to the 'Just Group' in 2007, so it seems very unlikely that Pavement could not afford or did not have the money to provide information concerning their labour practices. Nevertheless, the reasoning behind Pavement United Brands not being involved in this survey is questionable and frankly quite disappointing.  

Fashion 21 (Forever 21) 
Forever 21, a clothing brand which is highly popular among girls, had one of the most trendy and inexpensive clothes compared to other brands but did you every wonder who or where the clothes were from? Forever 21 received a D grade overall, and received a F for their worker empowerment on the website Baptist World Aid. The International Labour Rights called out Forever 21 for not joining retailers - such as Gap Inc., Levi Strauss and other companies - in deciding not to purchase cotton from the Uzbekistan factories, where alleged forced child labour takes place. Forever 21 has not publicly addressed their practice of forced labour in Uzbekistan nor has it provided information about how it ensures that its suppliers don't use cotton from Uzbekistan. So far, Forever 21 has refused to encourage human rights and speak out against child labour in the cotton industry.  Thus, the information suggests that Forever 21 does not support child labour and choses not to do anything about it. Would you want to wear clothing made by child labourers? Think before you buy.  
What can you do to help? 
Firstly, you can begin making a difference by signing this petition. The more signatures this petition receives, the bigger the change, so let's get signing! By signing this petition, you are agreeing to boycott the companies mentioned, or, in simpler words, avoid shopping at stores that employ unethical material sourcing and manufacturing. A more ethical choice than buying from these companies is shopping at op shops that recycle, Salvos and Vinnie's for example. You could even do a bit of research of your own to see which companies do the following: pay their workers at least a living wage, employ safe working conditions, and are aware of where all their materials are sourced, and then decide whether or not it would be acceptable to buy from them. By doing any of these things, you are making a change, despite how small it may seem. So sign this petition and help us make a stand against slavery!  

 By Aphrodite Georgakopoulos, Alexandra Tu & Annabelle Hill



Baptist World Aid Australia 2018, 2018 Ethical Fashion Guide, Transform Aid, Australia, accessed 22 June 2018, <https://baptistworldaid.org.au/resources/2018-ethical-fashion-guide/> 

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