Garment brands are under rising pressure from campaigners and consumers alike to improve conditions for some 60 million workers in their supply chains, ending abuse and modern slavery.
But the desire for affordable, throwaway fashion persists, squeezing wages for the workers who stitch most western clothes. The world’s top clothing brands are failing to fulfil their own promises to pay workers a fair living wage that covers basic family needs. Most major garment companies lack plans for calculating - let alone achieving - a living wage in their global supply chains. A living wage is supposed to cover the cost of normal family life - from rent and food to healthcare - plus allow for modest savings and be paid within a normal working week. There is little evidence that corporate commitments to living wages are translating into meaningful change on the ground. Consumers are purchasing products they may believe are made by workers earning a living wage, when in reality, low wages continue to be the status quo.
There is widespread inconsistency and confusion among firms over the definition of a living wage. Far too many companies stop at assuring that minimum wages are paid, which is clearly a long way off from working towards a living wage.