Consumers often look for tags in garments to indicate the size, care instructions and fiber content; however, in November 2017, Turkish shoppers recently found more than the standard information in their clothing.
According to Associated Press (2017), “Shoppers at the fashion retailer Zara in Istanbul have found unusual tags on their garments — complaints by Turkish workers who say they have not been paid for the merchandise in the store.” Apparently, the notes read “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it” (Associated Press, 2017). While unfair compensation is a major issue surrounding the fast fashion industry, it is not the only problem. In fact, Selin Girit (2017) reports that “Zara has previously come under fire when it was accused of slave and child labour, as well as exploiting Syrian refugees.”
Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.
Despite this fiasco, Zara is still seeing growth. According to Walter Loeb (2017) of Forbes, “At the corporate level, the company has been busy, entering new countries and expanding its on-line markets.” Also, at the end of the fourth quarter in December 2017, “the business can minimize its markdowns and accelerate online service for its various divisions” (Loeb, 2017).
Personally, I rarely think twice about the creation of a garment or the implication of my purchase when shopping. I do actually care about the people who are manufacturing the clothing, but often, that process seems so far-removed from my shopping experience at a local boutique or shopping mall. Therefore, I believe that news headlines such as these may actually help change the dialogue surrounding the fast fashion industry. If more people increasingly become aware of the dangers of fast fashion and continue to read such disheartening headlines, perhaps it will be reflected in overall consumer behavior. Of course, this type of change cannot and will not happen overnight, but it is my hope that, as a global society, we are inching toward a more sustainable perspective.
What one source scornfully calls fast fashion, another source deems its customer service. In describing Zara, Loeb (2017) writes, “The company operates with a very special kind of business model. Every division commits initially to a small quantity for fashion merchandise and then replenishes it in response to customer demands and preferences. This merchandising strategy enables stores to feature new and different products very quickly. Zara, for instance, can deliver a new garment in as quickly as 15 days – from design to store shelves in Spain and nearby countries. Delivery to the U.S. takes just a few days longer. That generates an excitement for customers that keeps them coming back.” While this on-demand model certainly keeps customers interested, it provides little consideration for sustainability, the global environment and, most importantly, those who labor to manufacture the garments.
Girit, Selin. (2017, November 15). “Turkey: Zara shoppers find labour complaints inside clothes.” BBC News. Retrieved from www.bbc.com.
Loeb, W. (2017, December 22). “How Inditex And Zara Are Winning, While H&M Is Losing.” Forbes. Retrieved from www.forbes.com.
“Zara clothes in Istanbul tagged to highlight labor dispute.” (2017, November 3). Associated Press. Retrieved from www.apnews.com.