Made in Asia still holds a long established stigma of sweatshops and child labor from exposés in the 80s and 90s. The simplified solution presented over the years has been Made in America, Made in UK, or Made in Italy is the only safe way to produce ethically made clothing. But are factory standards as simple as an address? The answer is NO. With sweatshop factory conditions and illegal pay violations found continually in America and throughout Europe, we need to start recognizing that garment factory standards go deeper than location.
Made in Italy | Exploitation
Almost 2/3 of their immigrants are being exploited in factories. In December 2013, a fire in one of the factories killed seven workers while sleeping in cardboard cubicles at a workshop. Also alarming, 90% of their factories use fabrics smuggled from China evading taxes and violating health and labor regulations for workshops (Source: Reuters). These numbers are likely surprising given the well respected nature of the Made in Italy label. But this sheds light on the importance of labor standards in factories no matter where they are located.
Made in the UK | Slave Labor
In April of last year, 10,000 garment workers were found to be working in unfit and unsafe environments in the UK, for as little as $4 USD an hour (Source: The Telegraph). Most of the garment workers came from poor circumstances in other European countries for the promise of a better life. As is often the case in modern slavery, upon arrival they realize they have been trafficked but the inability to speak the local language, know their rights, or the fear of deportation outweighs the unfit working conditions or pay. Check out our full post on how human trafficking operates in fashion's supply chain here.
Made in the U.S | Sweatshops
The idea of unethical garment factories only existed in other countries, but that is far from the truth. Slave labor is just as prominent in the U.S as it is in other countries. The most documented cases of sweatshops are across California, and New York. The U.S Department of Labor defines sweatshops as factories that violate two or more labor laws. The main violation seen is workers not being paid fair wages. Most workers a working 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week for $5-$6 dollars an hour, instead of the federal minimum wage of $7.25-$8 dollars an hour, and are not offered any overtime pay (Source: Green America). We should all try out best not to turn a blind eye, and continue to educate ourselves on the importance of factory standards.
How do you know if a factory is ethical?
On our platform, we only allow factories who have been audited by an ethical labor certification. This ensures the building, staff, and books, have been monitored to meet the following standards:
We know sustainable sourcing is hard but remember to stay diligent and not simply rely on an address. An address does not equal standards. If you are struggling to find an ethical garment factory THR3EFOLD is here to help you find production that is ethical and easy. Check out our Ethical Manufacturing Platform to see if one of our excellent ethical factories is what you need.