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Award-winning fashion designer condemns industry as ‘a stinking business’



Fashion garments have the “blood” of workers on them, award-winning designer Katharine Hamnett has said in a scathing attack over the working conditions in the industry.

Her claims came ahead of London Fashion Week, which started on Friday and runs until Tuesday, where some of the world’s leading names are showcasing their work.

In a documentary aired last week, ITV Exposure revealed instances of shocking treatment of workers in garment factories in Bangladesh – a country that made headlines last year when more than 1,000 workers died in a factory collapse. ITV said that workers were being physically abused by factory bosses over the quality of their work and were being subjected to long working hours on low pay.

In the documentary, Hamnett, who is renowned for her political activism, condemned the fashion industry as “a stinking business”. She added, “Most of our clothes are covered in blood.

The programme coincides with the launch of a book by journalist Tansy Hoskins, which casts a similarly dark shadow over events in London.

The book reveals the interests which benefit from human exploitation, including consumerism, class and advertising, exposing the imbalance of power within the fashion industry.

Only recently, Cambodian police broke up peaceful protests against poor working conditions and pay in the garment industry, shooting dead five workers and jailing more.

The Rana Plaza collapse happened despite safety concerns over the structure of the factory the day before. Workers were ordered back to work and threatened with the deduction of a month’s wages – equivalent to around £39.

According to campaign group War on Want, the families of workers killed in the disaster are still struggling for compensation.

Further reading:

Is a passion for fashion compatible with a concern for the world around us?

Students call for end to workers’ rights abuses

Eco fashion’s many faces

The True Cost: the future of fashion is on sale

We are a long way from achieving stability in supply chains


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