We have all heard about cheap labour - hell its right in front of us, the shopping centres are filled with what we would call bargains and 'cheap as chips products' but the reality of the supply chains behind these so called low cost products is not appealing- many are made by young children who are often slipped under the radar, without a voice.
The Supply chain's behind most of these products are hugely complex and it is hard for a company to supervise every step of the production process.
Children are hired at all stages of the production process from sourcing cotton seeds, harvesting and sewing the final garment - these steps can be taken across multiple countries to name a few Uzbekistan, India and Benin- making it virtually impossible for a company to track all steps taken in their manufacturing process.
So why has our industry got to this stage?
Fast Fashion. An estimated 170 million children are engaged in child labour - which is 11% of the global population of children - according to the International Labour Organisation. Since Fast fashion has been apart of our industry - more and more brands have been seeking to find production and labour at a cheaper price. Children are often subjected to low pay and dangerous conditions, not to mention the verbal, physical and mental abuse that is often taken out on them in their workplace.
So what are the major signs of child labour?
Any work that involves small fingers is usually a give away- beading, sparkles or embellishments are processes that are too costly for many manufacturers in the developing world to produce so therefore most of the finishing work is done by young children.
Many children are forced to abandon school in order to work in the industry - some are removed from their families and villages to become bonded to their employee which is simply modern day slavery- one child in every seven is classified as a child labourer.
Next time you go to buy something that is sparkly, embellished or has involved beading please stop to think " who's little fingers have made this?"