Reflecting on the history of global oppression, it is easy to assume we would be on the side of justice. We believe we are naturally opposed to colonization, slavery, genocide, and segregation.
But as we also know, hindsight is 20/20.
How often do we investigate the ways we are complicit in the very systems we may fundamentally oppose today? As fashion consumers, we are continually presented with opportunities to uphold or resist modern slavery through our purchases.
The hard truth is that when you think your only decision while shopping is which color dress to buy, you are actually making much more important decisions that may uphold forced labor conditions (disproportionately affecting women worldwide).
According to a 2018 report by the Global Slavery Index, garments are among the top five imported products at risk of modern slavery in their supply chain. In fact, $127.7 billion worth of apparel and clothing accessories are imported by the US and other nations, accounting for 80 percent of world trade annually.
Complex, globalized supply chains that touch multiple countries exacerbates the hidden nature of forced labor and human trafficking. These conditions make it difficult for businesses to monitor or control problematic associations. When products are finally available for us to purchase, it is very likely these products have a dark, inconspicuous, history.
It takes great care and due diligence to be mindfully informed about the consequences of our purchasing habits. Every dollar we spend positively or negatively affects a real person on other side of the labor supply chain.
Governments, businesses, and consumers all have an important role in combatting modern slavery. We must take responsibility for what we buy, where we buy from, and how that impacts the global demand for goods.
We don't have to ask ourselves how we would have responded to past issues of human suffering.We have an opportunity to respond to human suffering today through the purchases we make and the brands we patron.
Check out this report and spread the information that is impactful to you. Educating each other on these issues is one of the best ways to bring the dark and hidden nature of modern slavery to light.