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child-exploitation in fashion

Child Exploitation in Fashion: Why You Should Ask: #WhoMadeMyClothes

It’s Fashion Revolution Week, an initiative that encourages people to question the origins of their clothes and stand up against child exploitation. The sad reason behind this cause is because unfortunately, there are still brands that take advantage of unethical child labour laws in (mainly) Asia, creating garments that come at a heavy cost to people and the planet. All just to keep their own costs down and maximise profit.

But we’re proud to say we’re not one of those companies. Ever since we started in 2003, we’ve always stood by our strong ethical morals and create everything to order in house by our amazing team of experts, here at our Contrado facility. We have artisan seamstresses, print technicians, product developers, dressmakers, leather workers and more all working a fair day for fair pay. Just experienced workers doing what they love.

It’s important for you, as a customer, to know exactly where your item has come from. In fact, it’s your right to know, so use this week to ask #WhoMadeMyClothes and let’s collectively put an end to child exploitation and unethical practices in the fashion industry.

The Price of Fast Fashion

Just like sacrificing nutrition when you buy fast food, fast fashion comes at a price too. Many of the large, global brands have a convoluted supply chain, choosing suppliers in poor communities to keep costs down. Basing their manufacturing in Asia means they don’t have stringent human rights laws to abide by and can get away with paying peanuts. However they’ve been ignorant to the conditions of the workers, from the farmers through to the factories, turning a blind eye to the effects of child labour and unethical sourcing.

We love fashion, and we believe expressing individual style should be accessible to everybody, but it should also be fair to everybody too. When you buy a dress for £5 from a large retail chain, have you ever been curious as to why it’s so cheap? Making a profit is business, but at the expense of people’s livelihood is criminal.

In 2013, a clothing manufacturing building in Bangladesh that produced garments for big global brands, collapsed, killing 1,138 people and injuring a further 2,500. Most of the victims were young women. With rising material and labour costs in the western world, companies are exploiting poverty stricken areas. That’s why a Fashion Revolution is paramount.

Rana Plaza building collapse
The Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013, image via rijans Flickr CC


Wherever you go to buy clothes, you have the power to ask where they’ve come from. If you knew that a 7 year-old child had been forced to sew your t-shirt in an unhealthy environment for as little as a penny, would you feel comfortable wearing it? It’s time to change how fashion is made, sourced and consumed. And it starts with us – the people wearing it.

If you ever asked us who made your clothes, we’d be able to point you to the exact person, tell you their name and what their favourite lunch is. We all work closely together.

Contrado workers against child exploitation
Contrado workers against child exploitation & unethical practices within fashion

How We Value People

Unlike at the clothing factories in poverty stricken areas, everybody at Contrado has chosen to be here. They don’t have to sew to survive. We only employ adults under a proper, fair contract and pay everyone a fixed wage. Without our employees, what we do wouldn’t be possible, and this ethos is evident throughout our business.

seamstresses at Contrado
Seamstresses at Contrado

How We Value the Planet

We keep our supply chain clean, ethical, sustainable and short. Because we do everything in house and only source our fabrics locally, we have a low carbon footprint, and a better understanding of where everything comes from. Being on a first name basis with our fabric suppliers ensures we can ask the questions that matter to us. Where has the fabric come from? Are there safe working conditions? Do people get a fair wage? The environment that we work in is also crucial, so we only use eco-friendly inks, have a solid recycling scheme and manage our energy consumption efficiently. We’ve seen in countries where child exploitation is rife that they’re working with harmful chemicals in an unhealthy environment. Nobody, let alone a child, should be expected to work in such conditions.

ecofriendly inks at Contrado
Eco friendly inks at Contrado

End Child Exploitation & Unethical Practices

Get involved in Fashion Revolution week to help see a fairer, more sustainable future for the fashion industry. It’s simple, just ask #WhoMadeMyClothes. 

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