COVID-19 has affected the fashion industry on a grand scale, but the people suffering the most are behind the scenes.
The pandemic has seen almost every industry take a huge hit, from local businesses to our front-line workers. The impact COVID has had on the fashion industry may seem minuscule. But millions of people globally have been seriously affected. So much so, the deterioration of the fashion industry has sparked a humanitarian crisis.
Bangladesh’s Garment Crisis
In Bangladesh, 4.4 million people rely on the garment industry as their primary source of income. However, following the pandemic 1.2 million workers have been said to be directly impacted by order cancellations as thousands of factories closed. Western brands that sourced from Bangladesh were forced to cancel up to $2.8 billion in orders.
Unfortunately, this has meant millions of Bangladesh workers are now unemployed and forced to live in cramped slums.
Labour activist Kalpona Akter has spoken out about how the unemployment rate in Bangladesh has had causal effects on rising COVID cases.
“In other countries people can isolate. Our people don’t have that possibility. Workers live in houses that are a 10 x 10 room where 5 or 6 people live. If one person gets infected in a community, everyone will be infected.”
The country’s garment workers also lack representation for their human rights. This means they work tirelessly to satisfy the demands of fast fashion. As a result, millions of these workers are being placed in unsafe conditions where the probability of contracting COVID is increased tenfold.
“The situation is very bad. The Bangladeshi supply chain is in complete disarray with many foreign brands acting irresponsibly,” says Sharif Zahir, the managing director of the Ananta Group.
So, while the world gets back on its feet after 2 years on pause, workers can’t help but wonder if they will be left behind.
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