Can cheap fashion ever be ethical? (Quartz)
· Over 20 years ago, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) was formed in order to help combat worker exploitation that was beginning to come to light. However, the pace of change in the fashion industry has been somewhat slower than what the group was aiming for and as a result, the ETI commissioned a new report on the link between business models and labour standards.
· Fashion has a variety of business models, even within the low-cost sector, from the likes of Zara to Walmart. However, these models can create complex supply chains that become difficult or impossible to monitor effectively.
· These models in turn then lead to incentives for suppliers to “cut corners”. The article further examines why this continues to occur, focusing on cost pressures and government regulation.
Analysis and Comments
· This article highlights one of the interesting challenges facing the global garment industry. The first, slightly cynical, question to ask is does the average consumer care if their cheap fashion is ethical.
· The point in the article about clothing getting cheaper and consumers spending less & less of their income on it (for more quantity but lower quality) is telling.
· What is also interesting is the point the article makes regarding the length of the supply chain – in this case via suppliers and often multiple levels of sub contractors.
· The beef/horse meat scandal in the UK supermarkets only a few years ago is a clear example of what happens when supply chains gets too complicated to properly monitor.