Here in the United States, and in other countries recognized as being a part of the First World, fashion is recognized as one of the luxuries individuals enjoy. From designing to presentation, fashion is a multi-billion dollar business. The Inquisitr reported the latest in fashion as well as its industry, with details from this year’s Bridal Fashion Week. As for fashion influencing fashion, Victoria’s Secret is finding inspiration from Zara, aiming to monopolize fast-fashion.
Unfortunately, there is a dark side to fashion and thanks to Norway, it has been truly exposed. They did this by sending fashion bloggers to Cambodia to work in a sweatshop, the place where fashion is made.
The dark side of fashion was presented in a five-part online reality series by Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten. They sent three of Norway’s top fashion bloggers to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. There, the bloggers spent a month working in a Cambodian textile sweatshop. In the beginning, the bloggers are wide-eyed, happy, and carefree. With the progression of each episode, their idealism fades into sad tears when they realize the truth behind the clothes they love.
Though what the fashion bloggers experienced was horrific, RYOT wanted to inform that the sweatshop they were invited to work at was one of the least awful in Cambodia. Other have far worse conditions in which their owners would dare not record videos within their walls.
Overall, there are half a million garment workers in Cambodia. Out of that number, about 90 percent are women. Their current wages average about $50 a month, in which they barely make enough to rent a room in a shared place, pay utilities, and buy three meals of rice per day. As a matter of fact, one of the fashion bloggers who experienced this firsthand begged companies like Gap and H&M to pay their workers livable wages.
Though H&M has responded, claiming they are doing their best to raise wages to be livable, the real problem is that any wage increase doesn’t come from fashion companies but from the Cambodian government. Sadly, the Cambodian government and authorities want to keep wages low to keep their hold on their slice of the global free market. Presently, Cambodian textile companies produce 70 percent of its textiles for big U.S. brands. The fear is that increasing wages will push companies like Gap, H&M, and Walmart out to other countries that pay less than Cambodia.
As long as clothing companies choose cutting costs over ethical treatment of its workers, livable wages may never come to textile workers in Cambodia, or any country in the Third World. With the online series, it may just push consumers to pressure offending companies to increase sweatshop workers’ wages.
[Images via Aftenposten]