What is the value of fashion

Fashion makes business

Just two years ago, a textile factory collapsed in Bangladesh and buried hundreds of people under rubble. 1127 die, 2438 are injured, some seriously. Only catastrophes like this direct our attention to inhumane working conditions, under which a large part of our fashion is created. Because: Nine out of ten pieces of clothing in Germany come from countries with low wage and production costs. According to the Federal Statistical Office, China tops the list: clothing worth 7.87 billion euros was shipped to Germany in 2013. It was followed by Bangladesh with 3.24 billion euros and Turkey with 3.1 billion.

The example of jeans shows why production in emerging countries is so attractive for Western companies: Jeans are made in Bangladesh for less than one euro. 80 cents of this cover the factory costs (wages and safety measures), 23 cents make up the profit. Until the jeans are in the shop, there are also costs for material (approx. 18%), transport (20%), distribution and shop rent (47%). The profit margins for the labels are enormous, the wages for the mostly young workers are low. Women between the ages of 18 and 25 work up to 16 hours a day, sometimes more. As reported by the Clean Cloth Campaign, they receive around 35 euros per month. Overtime is not paid, as research by journalist Julian Rohrer and the WDR have shown.

The dilemma of the textile industry

Even though larger fashion companies have now drawn up codes of conduct for their suppliers, these do not apply to their subcontractors. The measures are very difficult or impossible to control because during official controls the workers do not name the grievances for fear of reprisals and fear of losing their jobs, as a recent WDR report showed.
The industry finds itself in a classic dilemma: If textile factories enforce the required standards, the price of production increases significantly - with the result that companies are looking for new producers who produce more cheaply. According to a report in the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT, observers already fear that Myanmar could become the new Bangladesh. According to ZEIT, local trade unionists and NGOs are already reporting on workers who were laid off because they were sick for a day, too few sanitary facilities, inaccessible emergency exits and forced labor. We know the effects of such circumstances from Bangladesh: Hundreds of deaths.