Fashion-lovers support Bangladeshi factory workers as big brands abandon contracts

Laren Tayyip May 24, 2020
Fashion-lovers support Bangladeshi factory workers as big brands abandon contracts

Lost Stock has responded to the plight of Bangladeshi workers with lucky-dip boxes of discounted fashion to prevent garments going to landfill amid covid-19 chaos

The wider impact of covid-19 has been devastating all around the world. It has affected every aspect of the economy, especially the supply chain in the retail industry, and this, in turn, has had a massive impact on people’s lives.

The fashion industry has left its most vulnerable workers high and dry as it continues to cancel orders of clothes which have already been produced – estimated to be worth $2 billion. Workers and their families in Bangladesh have been left unpaid and at risk of starvation.

In response, an initiative from the team at UK multi-retailer app Mallzee is now giving fashion-lovers the chance to buy a box of clothes with a 50% discount which supports these vulnerable workers while also preventing landfill waste. The clothes, which otherwise would cost £70, are priced at £35 per box, and each purchase supports a worker and their family for a whole week.

The Lost Stock initiative is partnered up with SAJIDA Foundation, working across 26 districts in Bangladesh to support those who need it the most. The foundation has, so far, helped over 50,000 households by delivering them food and hygiene packages plus PPE, and by installing portable washing devices all over the country. Lost Stock will donate a portion of each sale to their mission of ‘health, happiness and dignity for all.’

You can help Bangladeshi workers by buying a box of goodies from https://loststock.co – just type in your age bracket, gender, preferred styles and an assortment of garments will be shipped to you.

Cally Russell, Mallzee CEO, said: “With no safety net available for some of the poorest workers in the fashion supply chain, we couldn’t sit back and do nothing – leaving families to starve and new clothing heading to landfill. Through Mallzee we have a relationship with over 1.5 million UK shoppers so we have come up with a way to enable them to save lives as they shop.

“People in the UK have really come together to support each other in the fight against coronavirus and it’s really been heartwarming to see so many fashion influencers get behind this initiative and help those in the industry who are really suffering as a result of the pandemic.”

Muhymin Chowdhury, Head of Challenge Fund & Fundraising for SAJIDA, commented: “Cancelled orders have affected over 1,000 factories and the lives of 2.7 million workers and their families.

“We are very pleased to partner with Lost Stock whose approach helps redress the unfortunate failures of global brands to practise responsible sourcing.”

A spokesperson from the team at Mallzee added: “Our reason behind the initiative is to help those supply chains who need it the most while saving lives. We aim to be as transparent as possible and have sold 43,000 boxes so far.”

Seventeen brands, including Topshop, Primark, Gap, Forever 21 and Urban outfitters, are not currently paying their factory workers according to Remake.world (a non-profit organisation that aims to shed a light on the human rights violations and climate injustice being caused by the fashion industry). A petition called #PayUp has been started by Remake.world in order to force these popular brands and many more to pay their workers. It has 18,151 signatures so far, aiming to reach 25,000.

Many Bangladeshi workers have been sent home, left on the streets with no savings and without access to healthcare. The petition has 15 brands promising to pay their workers including Adidas, H&M, Nike, Asos, Under Armour and Next.

Influencer and entrepreneur Grace Beverley, who owns several successful sustainable businesses, took to Instagram this week to support Lost Stock and the #PayUp petition. On her story she wrote: “Please consider buying these boxes, and then never buying from the fast fashion brands who’ve refused to pay for the clothes already made and resultantly sent $2bn to landfill again.”

Dhaka factory (image: Reza Shahriar Rahman)

Covid-19 has further highlighted the damaging consequences of fast fashion on both the environment and on human lives. Some of the most vulnerable people in Asia have had to survive by putting together cheaply made garments and shipping them to western countries and now the lives of these garment makers are at risk.

This deeply unsustainable and unjust process needs to change for the better. Will this humanitarian crisis help to change the future of fast fashion? We can only hope.

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NCTJ Qualified Journalist with experience across both print and online. Enjoy writing long form pieces on topics such as lifestyle, health, fashion and features. (@larentayyip)