Exchange, 3rd year // HDK, University of Gothenburg.
I chose to address the textile design/ready made garment industry where thousands of workers in countries like Bangladesh have recently died in harsh and unsafe conditions to bring us the next biggest trends in fast fashion (brought to you by H&M, United Colors of Benetton, Walmart, Primark, Matalan, Mango, Joe Fresh etc…)
How it works:
The textile design team of a major clothing brand (for example H&M) provides the Pink Elephant Project with the names of their direct supply chains for each garment. The Pink Elephant Project then conducts un-announced auditing and inspections of workers and environment ensuring the factories comply with international standards.
The inspection will focus on:
• The age and health of employees
• The working conditions (building structure safety)
• Electricity and fire hazards checked
• Fire exits are free from obstructions
• Fire drills are practiced regularly
The results are then published online on the Pink Elephant Project website (www. pinkelephantproject.org) in a transparent manner that can be downloaded in a PDF format for company, consumer and media review. The PEP aims to ignite communication throughout the supply chain and into the hands of the consumer who can make the final informed choice. When understanding buyer behaviour, one of the first steps taken before purchase is to inspect the size and price, often found on the tags of the garment. This is where the buyer is treated to a warm and friendly contemporary logo, which represents the PEP organisation. On the reverse side of the tag, the buyer is informed of a code (unique to the style) in which they are invited to type in on the website or app to track some of the locations, photographs and workplace reviews his/her clothing was made from. Each garment style has an individual code. This is where an informed decision can be made. The buyer is no longer limited with a simple “made in Bangladesh” courtesy label, but can now also find out for themselves the conditions in which his/her clothes were assembled with thorough and up to date reports. A respondent in the conducted personal survey supported the need for the system by stating, “If only we knew how and by whom these garments were made by across the board, then my purchase would be much more informed.” The buyer also has the power to donate directly to PEP to ensure routine inspections and un-announced audits take place, counselling, health and aid services are provided to both men and women in the RMG industry.
The PEP differs from existing NGO’s as it is a fresh and committed face to the cause implementing design, service, communication, online media and basic union functions that are so often denied to Bengal people. Like the Fair Labour Association, the PEP operates on agreements set with partners and lays down a set of international standards, monitors and reports in a transparent manner (which holds companies accountable), and offers guidance and support. To elaborate, under the PEP, employees are protected from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. This means no person shall be subject to any discrimination in employment, including hiring, compensation, advancement, discipline, termination or retirement, on the basis of gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, nationality, political opinion, social group or ethnic origin. Forced labour and child labour are strictly forbidden and will be the PEP’s top concern when conducting audits. Workers also have right to collective bargaining, compensation and standard working hours that are lawful and humane.