Zara just can’t stop courting controversy. The Spanish fashion retailer is no stranger to bad publicity, and this week revealed yet more bad news about their business practices. Customers have been discovering unusual tags slipped into garments from factory workers in Istanbul, Turkey. With messages such as, “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it,” it’s clear that all is not well with the brand’s production line.
For the unsuspecting customers taking home an item, this reveals a broken system behind the scenes. Some of the tags also link to a Change.org petition, which explains that the employees worked for one of Zara’s Istabul-based factories, Bravo Tekstil, a factory that also made clothes for Next and Mango. Bravo closed in July 2016, but it’s reported those who worked there are still owed three months of wages, as well as severance pay. Despite the fact that it’s been over a year since the factory closure, Zara has yet to pay out to the 140 or so employees. The petition calls for Zara, Next and Mango to pay their debts to the workers.
Though Zara is within its rights to close down one of its hubs of manufacture, this doesn’t exactly do much for the people who are not only out of jobs, but out of pocket too. All workers deserve job security and employment protections, no matter who they work for.
All of this just reminds us of the true cost of fast-fashion. The disaster at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013, in which the collapse of a commercial factory took 1,134 lives, brought the problem of exploitative labour to the world’s attention, yet it seems the big brands have yet to take these problems seriously. If that’s not enough to have them change their business practices, we’re not sure what will be.
In the meantime, we’ll be checking our pockets — and our consciences — to expect more from our clothes.