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Trade Show: Neonyt

Social, fair, equal

In the eyes of the law, all people are equal and have the same opportunities and rights. But the reality often looks a lot different. For that to change, social injustices need to be reduced – between countries and within societies and industries, including in the fashion and textiles sector. The Neonyt community is showing how disadvantages can be overcome and how globalisation can be made fair.

May 2021

As well as CO2 and mountains of waste, the global fashion industry is also responsible for a lot of social injustices. Because if shopaholics are regularly buying new clothing at knockdown prices, wearing it and then throwing it away, this is not only at the expense of the environment, but also the workers who make the clothes. We have all been aware of social problems in the fast-fashion industry for a long time now, but the pandemic situation of the past 15 months has really magnified them: the retail shutdown means cancelled orders and, as a result, countless redundancies and even the threat to livelihoods – in an industry that employs more than 60 million people worldwide. Why? Half a billion unsold fashion garments and cancelled orders that should be hanging in stores today were already produced and financed a year in advance. So when these orders are cancelled, it means that textile workers in countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar have already covered the material and labour costs up front and are now out of pocket. Although in the eyes of the law everyone has the same rights, this highlights the fact that global inequalities are still very far-reaching – and therefore a huge obstacle for social and sustainable developments and the fight against poverty. But with the help of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations as part of Agenda 2030, this is set to change. SDG 10 focuses on reducing inequality – in terms of income, education, health and genders. Reducing inequalities can lead to sustainable economic growth and reinforce social solidarity. By 2030, it aims to ensure that everyone in the world is empowered to take action and to promote economic and political inclusion.

In a world that is shaped by capitalist structures, it all comes down to financial success. The value of clothing is only measured by the finished product, without taking into account aspects like production conditions, resources or how the workers are treated. “It’s been a very extractive system in terms of resources, environmental damage and also workers. The system is meant to extract as much work as they can from people and pay them the smallest wage possible,” said Esther Pan Sloane, Head of Partnerships at the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in a short interview with Kerry Bannigan, founder of Conscious Fashion Campaign. Social and ecological sustainability don’t seem to merit much respect in the fast fashion industry – meaning that the environment and employees in the production countries are often left behind.

But this doesn’t have to be the case, as shown by Neonyt’s exhibiting brands: since 1999, Lanius has been producing eco-friendly and fair fashion. In addition to its commitment to sustainability and ecology, respect for production partners also plays an important role for the label – regardless of whether they are large firms or small family-run businesses. As well as standards and certifications, personal contact and shared values are also paramount for the label. Denim label Dawn is also doing its bit in this respect: following its “Fair fits better” ethos, Dawn is fighting for a fairer world, for example with transparency initiatives like the Factory Open Day, the absolute traceability of its products or the opportunity to give its employees individual tips via the Tip Me portal. With 100 out of a total of 100 points, the Fair Wear Brand Performance Check – an independent evaluation of how every Fair Wear Foundation member is working on improving working conditions in their supply chains – clearly shows that Dawn is on target when it comes to social sustainability.

In the past year of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has undergone a transformation. A transformation that Neonyt has been advocating for more than a decade with its collaborations, communication and resourcefulness. And if one thing is clear, then it’s that everyone needs to pull together. By communicating their internal corporate values and high social standards transparently, producers can make a contribution. But most importantly, they should build a bridge to ensure that they are not only profiting themselves, but also paying their employees fairly – and preferably digitally to ensure that the money ends up where it is supposed to. But the responsibility to make the fashion industry more social, sustainable and fairer is down to a lot of people. Consumers can do their bit by figuring out which brands share their values and choosing to buy from them. The same applies to investors who can support social companies financially with their funding. The industry is on the right path, but there’s still a lot to be done. And the best time to take action is NOW.

#SDG10 #United Nations #Agenda 2030 #equality #social responsibility #poverty #capitalism #sustainability #Lanius #Dawn #fashion industry #Neonyt #now

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