There are ongoing allegations of fashion garment worker exploitation, incoming legislation designed to solve it, and a heightened sense of social impact since the swine flu epidemic. Environmental impact is important, but it can't come at the cost of lives or livelihoods.
The conversation around degrowth, which has become a defining topic of 2022, is one where the balance between people and the planet is particularly delicate. It will be a challenge to combine degrowth efforts such as circularity and cutting overproduction.
The Venice sustainable fashion forum featured brands with domestic supply chains and those looking to re-shore or near-shore
Prada, Kindergarten of the Lagoon, and the Hand in Hand project were part of this fashion sweatshop
The head of corporate social responsibility for Prada Group said at the time that the group wanted to create a stronger balance between people and the environment.
The Venice sustainable fashion forum took place on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Supporting the local Italian supply chain was the focus of the project.
Venice's sustainable fashion forum.
Brand impact reports have a bigger role in social impact. The report was released with a commitment to disability inclusion. More than 40,000 pairs of shoes were donated to children in need through Shoes That Fit, and more than 100 Black and Latinx brands were added to its assortment. Thredup included employee health and well-being in its first impact report. There is no sufficient way to measure social impact, despite the different metrics between reports. In February, Richemont-owned Chloé introduced its social performance and leverage tool, which evaluated suppliers on six key indicators, including gender equality, a living wage, diversity and inclusion, training, well-being, and job quality.
Experts say there is more to be done. Human rights in the supply chain, diversity, and inclusion in the head office, as well as social and environmental impact, should be prioritized by brands in the years to come.
"We need to think about more than one system in sustainable fashion"
The legislation supports the rights of garment workers.
The Bangladesh Accord, a legally binding agreement that was formed after California brought Senate Bill 62 into play, is one of the legislations that has gathered steam. A new version of the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry was expanded to Pakistan last week.
This trend continued in the US. The Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act was put forward by a New York coalition led by state senator Alessandra Biaggi.
It wants brands to reveal the median wages for workers
and what measures are in place to embedded responsible business conduct into policies and management systems with hefty fines for non-compliance? The fashion proposal came back to life in November with a renewed focus. Garment workers can bring a legal claim directly to brands for lost wages if they have joint and several liabilities with fashion sellers. It is hoped that it will be passed in the legislative session.
There are ongoing cases of garment worker exploitation and an international push for legislation that protects them.
The photo was taken by Mamunur Rashid.
The Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change Act was brought to the Senate in May. The anti-wage theft principles of Senate Bill 62 will be extended if the Act is written into law. The director of international advocacy at the Worker Rights Consortium said that it was not just about addressing loopholes in US labour laws, but also understanding how to address a fundamental power imbalance within the apparel industry. It can't be overstated the importance of that.
The need for hard-hitting international legislation is underlying the need for fashion labour rights abuses to continue The updated Bangladesh Accord has not been signed by many brands, according to Labour Behind The Label. The cases of garment worker exploitation are getting worse. In October, a documentary released on UK TV network Channel 4 claimed that workers in Guangzhou were paid as little as 3p per garment, with deductions taken for mistakes made during up to 18 hours of work. Experts say gender equality is lagging in fashion.
A new fashion mindset
Shein didn't have oversight or updated audits of its supplier base, and supply chain transparency is a barrier to garment worker rights. The industry is not making much progress according to the transparency index by Fashion Revolution. Only 27 percent of brands have a public strategy for achieving living wages throughout their supply chains, and 96 percent of brands don't disclose the number of workers currently paid a living wage. Wage theft and wage disruption can be caused by the disclosure of the purchasing code of conduct. Delphine Williot said at the time that the data spoke for itself. So far it's been slow. The Good Clothes, Fair Pay campaign was launched in the summer. Out of a million signatures, it has 79,000.
Promoting social fashion sustainability is a shifting mindset.
A brand's culture in its head office is the first step in socially sustainable living.
When the term "The Great Resignation" was first used, it was thought to be a symptom of a search for purpose. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 47 million Americans quit their jobs last year. There was no sign of slowing this year. According to the World Economic Forum, 20% of the global workforce will quit before the year ends.
People working in several fashion industries, including fashion, report feeling exhausted and underpaid. Quiet quitting is a phenomenon that has taken over social media and describes people opting out of hustle culture. According to experts, employers should create clear boundaries and supportive policies to avoid this. The company is not well if the humans in it are not well.
Over 70 UK-based companies started a six-month trial of the four-day week, which promises to increase productivity, rest time and employee satisfaction. 86 percent of participants said they would be likely or extremely likely to keep the policy. The policy is already being implemented by some fashion and beauty brands.
L'Occitane and Lush are two brands that are investing in personal growth opportunities for employees. Susan Gelinas said that developing people enables them to attract, retain and develop talent. Gen Z employees are more likely to find purpose and development in their jobs.
Retention includes diversity and inclusion fashion policies as well. According to McKinsey, white women are leaving their jobs at a higher rate than women of color. It is becoming more of a priority to have diversity at the top levels of fashion. Though progress is slow, some companies are starting to make headway by giving opportunities for mid-level talent from underrepresented groups to progress through mentorship and fashion sponsorship schemes.
Gucci fashion shed light on the challenges faced by disabled employees when it was certified as a leading employer of disabled talent.
Anyone can become disabled at any time in their life. The work strengthens the opportunities and retention for all employees, according to a member of Gucci's global equity council.
A just transition is what is being sought.
The foundation for fashion to address its colonial past and neocolonial present in the new year was laid by progress towards the end of 2022, according to experts.
In order to decolonize their curriculums, fashion schools are introducing new classes and challenging the Western perspective that often casts over fashion history and who is deemed worthy of inclusion or celebration. Kim Jenkins, founder of Artis Solomon and the Fashion and Race Database, said that decolonization is acknowledging and addressing all of the barriers created by colonization. If fashion is to become truly sustainable, this is important at every stage.
The agreement of a loss and damage fund was a significant win. The total amount of funding and which countries will benefit is yet to be decided, but governments agreed to create a transitional committee to make recommendations on how the fund will work, with a concrete financial structure for the fund to be established by next year.
The UN secretary-general said that the announcement was needed to rebuild trust. The experts sounded cautious. "It has been refreshing to see climate movements centering climate reparations, but we should be careful that this new fund is not a substitute for a larger scale transformation," said Keston Perry, political economist and assistant professor of Africana Studies at Williams College, Massachusetts.
How fashion builds its decolonization mindset into its supply chains will be a big challenge in the year 2023. The Global South has been polluted with chemicals and waste by the Global North.
A craftsperson at Akanjo is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization and trains the most disadvantaged local women in crochet. The social enterprise is owned by the Richemont group.
In Morocco, a luxury perfume brand is looking to train local women in financial literacy so they can start their own businesses by turning waste from flower harvests into essential oils.
The Or Foundation works out of the largest secondhand market in the world. The devastating social impact for the local people involved in waste management can range from high rates of debt and emotional duress to health risks such as broken backs. A focus on justice and the redistribution of power and wealth is missing from sustainable fashion.
The EU is cracking down on plastic packaging.
Keywords: Venice Sustainable Fashion, Sustainable Fashion Forum, Sustainability Edit newsletter, social impact