Let’s take things slow… fashion.

As our campaign comes to an end, Cut The Sweat would like to take things a little slow… while fast fashion has been a large focus of our campaign, we’d like to leave you with a movement that we believe will leave an impact on ethical fashion in the future – Slow Fashion. As a partial solution to our problem, the Slow Fashion movement is an emerging initiative that goes against all that Fast Fashion proposes.

Not only does it focus on ethical production, it also emphasises the idea of environmental sustainability and wastage. It does this by urging designers to put more thought into their supply chain and transparency and designing for longevity – as opposed to fast fashion whose focus is on rapidly turning over trends.

Benefits of slow fashion include:

  • Slower production schedule = less demands for overworked labour
  • Transparency in production
  • Ethical trading
  • Reduced/Minimal wastage
  • Reduced/Minimal environmental impact
  • Giving value to designers and their work due to a lower turnover cycle

Cut The Sweat supports the slow fashion movement especially in the face of its ethical benefits. What we have highlighted throughout our campaign is inherently linked to the efforts of slow fashion and we urge everyone to jump on board this worthy movement!

Cut the Sweat has connected with In Defence of Slow Fashion, another fantastic slow fashion campaign to give you this post, so be sure to head over to their site to check out the exciting aspects of Slow Fashion!

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Living Wage

Throughout the campaign, we’ve talked about workers safety and health, but now its time to talk about something we should have a long time ago – Wages.

While we, in Australia are lucky enough to have the opportunity to chase our dreams and earn our livings doing something we love, this is not the case for the millions of sweatshop workers overseas. In fact, slaving away in those horrible factories is their only choice. But is it all worth it?

In this blog, we’ll being talking about the Living Wage, in other words the cost of living that should cover the basic needs of an individual and his or her family. Why we are talking about this is that most of the individuals working in sweatshops are not receiving nearly enough compensation for their work, hence not receiving an adequate living wage.

Have a look at the list below compiled by the World Bank:

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The figures are shocking! How can anyone survive on $1 a day? But this is the reality for millions around the world, especially those working in the garment manufacturing industry.

Bangladesh, Cambodia and China, as we have written about in previous blogs, are large textiles exporters whose economies are largely based on garment production. No doubt, their sweatshop situation has also caused workers to earn wages a long way off the recommended their living wages.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance and Labour Behind the Label have calculated the living wages of key garment producing companies in Asia and compared them to the minimum wages of workers. The results are shocking.

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As can be seen, Bangladesh’s minimum wage is 18% of its living wage, Cambodia’s minimum wage is 34% of its living wage and China’s is a whopping 53%…

Imagine only having half of what you need to survive… and some of us complain about being broke… It sounds impossible, but this has resulted in workers in these countries to live in inadequate conditions.

What we urge from this is that corporations take on responsibility to ensure their workers are paid correctly and comfortably! But as the sweatshop model clearly has turned a blind eye to this, we are also urging you to #Cut The Sweat and realise the injustices that are occurring on a daily basis!

Recycled Fashion > Fast Fashion

Buying new clothes is pretty much one of the most satisfying things to do and we acknowledge that, but in the face of sweatshops and all the gruesome things that fast fashion produces, we need to think of smart ways to limit our spending on unethically produced clothing.

In this blog, we’ll give you some tips on how to Cut The Sweat, and reduce your sweatshop footprints! It’s all about recycling and up-cycling, so this post is a must see for both you ethical and sustainable shoppers.

  1. Thrift Shopping

Heading to your nearest Op shop or second hand store is not only the best way to grab yourself a bargain, but it also a great alternative from contributing to the dirty cycle of fast fashion!

Vintage is always trendy and chances are you’ll find items that barely anyone else has! We know some of these vintage items may have had a sweatshop history, but recycling them is a great alternative from having them end up in the wastelands – and plus, and by buying thifted items instead of spending money on new clothes, you’re actually also helping slow down the demand for fast fashion.

There are heaps of thrift stores in Newtown (Hipster capital of Sydney) so we are sure you will not be disappointed! Spend a day along King Street, which is just where Newtown train Station is and you could even grab some delicious food a long the way – another Newtown specialty. Check out the hot spots here.

Online stores such as Ebay and Etsy are also great outlets, so check them out!

  1. Charity Shops

A long the same lines as thrift shopping, shopping at charity stores are a great alternative to Cut The Sweat. Charity stores are usually cheap, so you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg AND you are giving to a great cause. The money you spend at charity stores go toward helping the needy so not only are you receiving but are also giving to those who really need a hand!

Some of our favourite charity op shops include: VinniesSalvosThe Australian Red Cross

  1. Recycle and Upcycle your own clothes!

This is so obvious! Check your closet, there must be heaps of clothes in there you can still wear! Recycle them! If not, raid your parent’s closet – there must be something in there they can’t fit into anymore, or are sick of! Best part of this – its free! We highly recommend because you never know what you might find.

And then there’s a thing called upcycling – where you repurpose your old clothes into new fashion items. Have a look at this listinspired guide for some great ideas!

On a final note, Cut The Sweat would like to make a special shout out to Ines Castro for inspiring this post. Check out her blog about shopping ethically here!

Something VERY unjust about the Just Group…

We brought to you a list of some of Australia’s sketchy brands in a post a couple of weeks ago, but we saved two of the biggest for this week’s expose. The first is the Just Group – responsible for Jay Jays and Just Jeans, Portmans and Smiggle.

The biggest problem with the Just Group lies in their refusal to join the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. This accord was set up to ensure worker’s safety in factory buildings in Bangladesh, where the Just Group have been found found to source their products/labour. According to the Daily Mail, it is the last out 0018630of 10 big fashion companies to still have resisted urges from unions and non-profits to join the accord. If you ask us, this sounds just a little bit too suspicious…

Oxfam has also unleashed a public campaign against Just Group pressuring them for better transparency and to engage in procedures that ensure the safety of their workers. Have a look at Oxfam’s communication with the Just Group here.

It is clear to see that they are not completely answering the questions asked. While they have attempted to justify their ethical standing with production – the Just Group still have not answered why they haven’t joined the Bangladesh Accords… and of course, there is no sign of WHEN they will be doing it either.

Keep this in mind the next time you step into a Jay Jays, Portmans, Smiggle or Just Jeans store and think to yourself, is your next purchase really worth it?

Have a look at Oxfam’s list of Australian names that have joined the Bangladesh accord as the first step to ensure ethical fashion!

It’s time to just #CutTheSweat.

Cambodia: the fainting factory

Cambodia: a small South-East Asian nation neighboured by Thailand, Vietnam and Laos with a population of roughly 15 million. It’s one of those countries you’ve heard of, but never really knew much about. Well, we are here to tell you about it.

Despite becoming a growing tourist destination over the past decade, Cambodia is not only paradise for keen travellers but many international garment producers. Just trailing behind China and Bangladesh, Cambodia’s garment industry accounts for over one third of the country’s GDP, generating almost $6.5 million in revenue. Just like we mentioned in our post about Bangladesh, these statistics should be celebrated, but the reality is far from happy days.

Despite strong labour laws being drafted in the late 1990’s and trade agreements with the US in 2002, Cambodia’s worker’s rights are still being abused today. Being forced to work double and triple shifts without overtime compensation is the norm along with pressures to achieve impossible workloads, malnutrition, no amenity breaks and mental abuse. Toxic fumes, bad ventilation and heat exhaustion are also not uncommon.

The result of these factors have lead to a recurring theme in the Cambodian sweatshop – fainting. In fact, fainting has become so popular; crowds of hundreds often do it at the same time. In 2011, nearly 300 Cambodian workers passed out manufacturing knitwear for Swedish fashion giant, H&M which authorities have blamed on malnutrition, poor ventilation and toxic fumes. Of course, factory owners deny these claims. Throughout the whole year, almost 1,000 workers were reported to have fainted due to similar reasons. In 2014 Puma and Adidas became the culprit of another mass fainting incident where over 100 workers fainted in factories producing their goods.  Overall, however, reports have shown that accumulatively, between 1,500-2,000 Cambodian workers have fainted between 2011 to 2014.

Despite this, factory workers are still subjected to unfair working conditions where they are often threatened with the loss of their jobs.  Pregnant women especially are prone to this treatment where they would be dismissed without pay once they are showing.

What’s more upsetting than this is that the country’s government is doing very little to support the welfare of their workers. In fact, “very little” is an understatement. In 2014, the country’s police and military forces opened fire against garment workers and activists who organised a protest to increase wages. This conflict lead to the death of four people with many more injured. This clearly shows the level of abuse that encircles the Sweatshop model. Almost unheard of in our context, change is much needed to ensure social justice and equality.

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It’s time to #CutTheSweat and realise what’s happening.

Are you paying for slavery? (Part 2) Sketchy Australian brands called out for non-transparency.

In one of our older posts, we talked about big international brands that have had major sweatshop situations but now let’s talk about something that is much closer to home. What about the Australian brands?

We are looking closely at the Baptist World Aid report that ranks Australian brands from A to F based on their transparency and efforts to improve working conditions.

For the F list, here are Cut The Sweat’s most concerning brands that has been scored this way due to a lack of public information regarding their supply chain and manufacturing processes.

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Is the cheapness worth the real price?
  • Ally Fashion
  • com
  • General Pants
  • Hush Puppies
  • Roger David
  • Seed
  • Volley
  • Best and Less

We see these brands in a lot of our shopping malls, yet we have no idea if their clothes are ethically made and what their supply chains look like. We should really be asking ourselves why they are withholding such information and why have they not made any public efforts to promote transparency in their manufacturing process? Is it because they are guilty of sweatshop labour?

Our next list consists of brands that have some supply chain transparency, but remain guilty of abusing worker’s rights. These brands have scored D on the Baptist World Report.

pumpkin-patch
A store for kids that sells clothes probably made by kids forced to work 14-hour days… sounds about right… NOT.
  • Oroton
  • Charlie and Me
  • Diana Ferrari
  • Mathers
  • Mink Pink
  • Tempt
  • Williams
  • Pumpkin Patch

Cut The Sweat believes in supply chain transparency as it is the first step to fairer working conditions. Think about the real price you are paying when you purchase from these brands. Ask yourself: are you paying for slavery?

It’s time to #CutTheSweat and think ethically.

Fast fashion is just way too fast…

You may be wondering why we are dedicating a whole blog post to “fast fashion” on this human rights based page. But fast fashion and human right has a stronger connection than you think.

The term itself describes the process whereby everyday retailers mimic high-end fashion trends, imitating clothes straight from designer catwalks. In other words, mainstream stores such as H&M and Zara are producing and selling clothes that reflect the trends of higher-end fashion names such as Chanel and Burberry. Characterised by its quick turnover (high disposability – physical waste and trendiness) and low price, fast fashion has influenced a generation of increased spending where people are buying one third more clothes than they were a decade ago. As a result, fashion retailers are constantly introducing new collections to meet the high purchasing demands. However, in today’s market, demand and supply seem to be a cyclical process. What we mean by this is that although high spending habits are causing consumer demands, fashion brands are also influencing consumer choices through faster turn-arounds. This has hence caused a blur over our contemporary fast fashion situation.

What’s clear however, is the demand for sweatshop production. In order to sell at a low price, in large quantities and with quick stock turn-overs, companies often take advantage of the sweatshop system where mass production at minimal cost can be achieved. What we see in the end is a consumerist society that tramples on the poor and underprivileged in third world countries.

And this, is where Cut The Sweat gets involved. In fact, this is where we should ALL get involved. The first step is to realise what is actually happening. What we aim to do here is to raise awareness for the injustices of the sweatshop model. If you are new to our campaign, please read through our previous posts to get a quick idea of the sweatshop situation and the abuse millions endure around the world. Also head over to our Facebook and Twitter for more relevant content and we also recommend following Avi, the human face to our campaign – his story will definitely put things into perspective!

It’s time to #CutTheSweat and think fair-trade!