Do you know where your clothes come from? I don’t mean just what’s on the label like “Made in China” or “Produced in Sri Lanka”; I’m talking about the entire process from start to finish. In my Fashion 180 class (Product Development), I recently learned about the Catch 22 that is international labor and outsourcing apparel manufacturing to countries such as Bangladesh, China, India, and Vietnam. The reason why such outsourcing is a Catch 22 is because while companies in America are paying international workers minuscule fractions of what they would have to pay them in America, working at such companies is still the best option for such workers since there is such a dearth of any paying jobs in their area.
However, these workplaces (sweatshops, production lines), while they may be the worker’s best options, are still very dangerous, unstable, and prone to fires. In 2013, a sweatshop named Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh, and thousands of workers were either instantly dead or irreversibly injured, leaving their families in despair with no other source of income.
After this, the movement for safe and fair international labor really took off. This movement is important to me because as a fashion major, I have seen the impacts of globalization on the industry and I have seen how increasingly spread out production is becoming from its central source. This has a huge impact on the lives of many people around the world. The movement focuses on improving workplace conditions internationally and making labor more regulated through increasing the minimum working age, increasing general wages, and making workplaces safer and less crowded. I like how this movement is global and forces us to open our eyes to issues beyond the scope of our day to day lives as college students. We could even possibly get input from international students from countries such as China who have seen the impacts of it first hand or who have had relatives work in the unsafe conditions before.
-Katie Kornienko, Core4