In 2019, 97 per cent of profits in the industry were generated by just 20 companies.
Elizabeth L Cline, an author on labour rights and environmental practices in the fashion industry, argues that outsourcing has enabled retailers to distance themselves from risks in the supply chain. “Even though brands control everything about the supply chain, they’ve set it up so that workers cannot ask for what they need,” she says. The system is designed to operate similarly to the business model of gig economy companies such as Uber: “Let’s pretend our essential workers are not our employees and leave risk with people least equipped to deal with it.”
Mostafiz Uddin, boss of Bangladeshi clothes manufacturer Denim Expert says he will not take legal action against clients that have left him with hefty bills. “If I sue, I will forever be known as the supplier that sued its client. I would likely be finished as a business,” he says.