Some 75 million black and brown garment workers around the world were unpaid during the Covid-19 crisis, according to Remake. Bangladeshi workers are among the most affected, but it is a truly global phenomenon, from Cambodia to El Salvador, from Sri Lanka to Haiti. “This is the irony of some of the brands that are cooperating with the black lives movement in terms of smart PR campaigns,” Barenblat said. “If you don’t stand up for racial justice in your supply chain, if you don’t care about black and brown employees in your retail stores, in your warehouses, if you don’t have board representation and in management, you don’t. t represents Black Lives Matter.
Barenblat notes that many garment workers and suppliers are afraid to denounce brands, so Remake acts as a middleman. He receives Instagram DMs from suppliers and works with reporting bodies around the country (such as the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) to verify claims. He shares with his community on Instagram which brands do not pay. The community in turn tags the brands in question and challenges them online. Remake also sends emails to brand executives, tracks who accepts #PayUp, and verifies that payments are received.
Brand managers are more exposed
Since H&M became the first brand at #PayUp, Barenblat has observed a domino effect among its competitors such as Zara, Uniqlo and Asos. And Remake is pitting companies against each other to encourage more brands to pay, she says. Companies that have yet to pay #PayUp include Urban Outfitters, Gap, Fashion Nova, and JCPenney.
“Current events have sparked change and brought to life a real awakening where consumers no longer accept,” says Alison Bringé of Launchmetrics. “They seek to act and many leaders are held accountable for their behavior. “
The most successful movements, according to Barenblat, are those that dismiss the concept of branding as a monolith, instead focusing on executive structures and addressing real people within companies. “You have the billionaire Green family who own the Arcadia group, including Topshop. Their net worth exceeds $ 2 billion and they owe suppliers $ 100 million since April, ”she said. “Making these connections gives the brand a human face on Instagram, which makes it even more powerful. “
There is still a lot of work to be done, says Chuter. While the beauty industry has responded impressively, fashion brands’ participation in #PullUpOrShutUp has been slow, which Chuter attributes in part to a lack of promotion from fashion influencers. “Fashion has been very calm,” she says. “The big fashion influencers haven’t stepped in – it’s pretty fragmented.”
But the relationship between consumers and brands has fundamentally changed, in a way that is now unfolding with spectacular speed. All thanks to the ability of social media to magnify and transmit the power of protest.
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