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New apparel tracker findings reveal major fashion brands record profits while vulnerable workers languish in poverty

UN Women/Fahad Abdullah Kaizer

In November 2020, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launched new findings outlining how the fashion industry is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. It found a mismatch between industry rhetoric of unprecedented challenges and their lack of policy development to ensure worker rights are adequately protected. Fifty fashion companies were invited to respond (34 responded) to questions regarding responsible actions taken to respond to garment workers’ rights during the pandemic.

  • More than half (29) of the brands recorded profits since the onset of the pandemic
    • Of these, nine have still not committed to pay for all orders
    • Of these, 10 did not respond to the survey
  • Only one – Calvin Klein parent company, PVH - has implemented a pandemic policy with factory suppliers to ensure vulnerable workers are not being disproportionately targeted for layoffs
  • However, 25 indicated they have a pre-existing policy which covers this and seven said they had recently reiterated this policy to their suppliers.
  • British brands, Topshop, Boohoo and Debenhams failed to respond once again while Gap engaged positively for the first time after a recent decision to pay all suppliers in full.
  • Only three companies – Aldi Nord, Aldi Sud and Lidl – have implemented a new policy not to ask factories for price reductions/discounts relative to comparable items with last season, although 65% of factory suppliers have reported demands of price cuts from brands.

View our COVID-19 Apparel Action Tracker here and related media coverage below.

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