During the Fashion Revolution Week 2020, we will campaign for a clean, safe, fair, and transparent fashion industry, as we have done since the beginning at Népra. For as long as we have existed, we have taken part in the fashion revolution week, but this year, due to the current global health crisis and COVID-19, we feel it’s even more important to point out the ethical issues of our industry.
The garment industry is the most labour-intensive and one of the lowest-paid industries in the world, and that makes it extremely vulnerable to global emergencies such as the current COVID-19 crisis.
Bloomerang estimates that 1089 garment factories have lost orders worth approximately US$1.5 billion, due to the current coronavirus crisis. Some brands have not only cancelled orders but also stopped payments for batches already made. In other words, they take zero responsibility for their supply chain and garment workers. 
These order cancellations have already caused millions of garment workers to lose their jobs, reports the global trade union IndustriALL. These workers don’t know how to manage to pay for rent, food, or medical care in the case of COVID-19. The normal wage for a garment worker barely covers their normal living costs and therefore garment workers don’t have the possibility to save for all possible upcoming crises. 
“Poverty is a killer, too, and many more people die from poverty than from COVID-19” says Bangladeshi garment manufacturer Mostafiz Uddin.  We should not only react to these quickly-evolving crises, but also to the underlying problems that exist everyday.
On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza complex collapsed; 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth-largest industrial disaster in history . It has been eight years since the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh and the Fashion Revolution was born. However, the ethical issues of the garment industry are as prevalent as ever, and yet to be solved.
Over 90% of workers in the global garment industry have no possibility to negotiate their wages or conditions . According to the Fashion Transparency Index 2019 by Fashion Revolution, 54% of the brands create goals for the environment but only 40% create goals for human rights . We think these issues are equal and neither should be forgotten for the sake of higher profit margins.
Transparency is the best tool to create change in the industry. But transparency alone is not enough. We need to find ways to create a clothing industry and business that produces less, where we consume less and take better care of our clothes, while using them longer.
There is no value in clever marketing campaigns and messages if it’s not honest nor based on fact. We don’t want to be a brand known for its empty words; we want to be known for real, tangible information.
As our partner Kamilla in Estonia is facing similar obstacles with order cancellations (currently, they do not have enough orders to keep working full time), we at Népra are committed to doing what we do best so that we can keep all our orders in, and provide the Kamilla ladies at least some monthly income, as long as they deem it is safe enough to continue their work.
The issues and the problems within the textile and clothing industry do not fall upon any individual, brand, or company. We are in this together, and we’ve got this.
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