If you haven’t already heard, there’s a fashion revolution on the rise. You may have seen the #PayUp hashtag circulating around the internet recently. But what exactly is this movement, and why should I care?
The #PayUp movement surfaced in late March 2020 after Remake, a fashion advocacy organization founded by Ayesha Barenblat, launched the campaign via Instagram. Ever since its creation, the hashtag has been floating from one social media platform to the next, most frequently appearing on Instagram and Twitter. The women-led campaign acts as a voice for garment workers all over the world by urging retailers to pay their employees who fabricate the products they sell in their stores.
Take a minute to think about your consumer habits. Do you own clothing from Urban Outfitters, Topshop or Levi Strauss? These are only a few brands on the long list of fashion companies contributing to the exploitation of their garment workers. These are the brands who are refusing to #PayUp.
According to @whomade.yourclothes on Instagram, the survival of approximately 4.1 million garment workers is “in the hands of western fashion brands.” Additionally, in Bangladesh, 63% of garment workers are at risk of homelessness, as claimed by @whomade.yourclothes. Not only are the workers severely underpaid, but they are also subjected to work in crowded factories in the wake of the pandemic. This is a human rights issue; garment workers are going hungry.
Thanks to the hashtag, consumers have become aware of brands’ willful ignorance. For globally-known retailers such as Kylie Jenner’s own ‘Kylie Cosmetics,’ paying their workers in Bangladesh is apparently at the bottom of their to-do list. Jenner, named Forbes’ ‘youngest self-made billionaire’ in March 2019, has not taken it upon herself to pay the Bangladeshi workers who produce her products. Additionally, Arun Devnath of Bloomberg says orders worth billions of dollars have been canceled, after Bangladeshi workers have risked their lives by going into work, mid-pandemic.
I have taken the pledge to refrain from supporting retailers who are not paying their factory workers. Big fashion brands must hold themselves accountable, but for now, we must take the issue into our own hands.
Next, demand that these brands #PayUp– flood their inboxes, comment sections and mailboxes. Urge them to be proactive. We must continue to demand that brands honor their contracts with their employees by paying them living wages.
I would be lying if I said I have always been an ethical consumer; I own many products from brands who have subjected their factory workers to unlivable incomes. However, I realize the repercussions of my consumer habits, and I have decided to reevaluate my role in the fashion industry. And don’t worry, I’m not saying ‘don’t spend money at any of these brands ever again’– all I’m asking is for you to analyze the way your actions have affected those who are the most vulnerable, and to maybe make a few adjustments.
As consumers, we have the power to influence the way brands operate, so why are we not using it? By making small changes in our own lives, we are granted the ability to make drastic improvements in other’s lives. Join me in supporting the #PayUp movement and becoming a part of the fashion revolution!
Cover image credit: @remakeourworld Instagram