The rise of fast fashion over the last twenty years has relied on low-cost labour to meet demand for cheap, trendy clothes at a faster pace.
The “exploitative nature” of fast fashion has created poor and unsafe working conditions for many garment workers and even though wages have gradually increased in many manufacturing countries, the industry is still fueled by the labor of millions of mostly young, female workers who are not paid enough to provide for themselves and their families.
In 2013 the factory complex at Rana plaza in Bangladesh collapsed killing over 1100 workers making it the deadliest garment industry disaster in history. Over 200 brands signed an accord to prevent the manufacturing of clothing in unsafe conditions and many of the worst factories were shut down but low worker wages have failed to keep up with inflation.
Consumer demand for cheaper clothes have contributed to worker exploitation. By purchasing 10$ T-shirts they are creating a market incentive to exploit workers in the developing world.
The key to improving the working conditions for many apparel workers is to educate consumers and make fashion brands responsible for their unethical manufacturing.