If you haven’t heard yet, fast fashion apparel brand Fashion Nova has teamed up with Cardi B to give away $1,000 every hour to those impacted by the coronavirus. Fans of Fashion Nova, which Cardi B has partnered with to produce multiple collections, are able to make their plea in 250 words or less to be considered for the Fashion Nova Cares campaign. As Cardi B states in her Instagram announcement of the giveaway, “We love you guys and we are so thankful that you guys have been supporting us for so long. It’s time for us to support you guys back.”
The sentiment is nice, right? But it begs the question: What about the women who have been surviving on exceedingly low and illegal wages to stitch together Cardi B’s Fashion Nova collections in downtown Los Angeles?
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Thank you guys for supporting me and @FashionNova, I teamed up with them to help those that have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Many of you are struggling to pay bills, feed your families, and take care of your overall essential needs. #FashionNovaCARES & I are giving away $1,000 EVERY HOUR until we’ve given away $1 MILLION DOLLARS to those directly affected by this crisis. Tell us how the $1,000 can help you during these times. We’ll be reading your submissions and selecting stories everyday so enter now by visiting www.FashionNova.com/Cares Also PLEASE make sure that your Instagram is public, because I will also personally be looking thru these submitted pages. Starting NOW!
Last week, Remake spoke with the Garment Workers Center about the impact of coronavirus on the population of garment makers in downtown Los Angeles, where upwards of 50,000 mostly immigrant women work in clothing production. Paulina Miguel, who has been working in the garment industry since she was 19 years old, shared her story with us. Miguel stated that she lost her job in March as a result of the coronavirus epidemic that led to stay-at-home orders and a constriction in retail sales. Miguel’s mother also works in the same factory as Paulina, where the two of them sew clothing for Fashion Nova.
“The company told us that [they] were going to close down for the coronavirus. They told us they were going to close down and not open it until April 20th. But we just heard that the company didn’t really close, they just told that to some of the workers.”
As it turned out, some of the garment workers were kept on to continue sewing, while others were lied to and told that the factory was closing its doors amidst stay-at-home orders.
What’s most startling here is the lack of transparency the factory has with its with garment makers, who already make as little as $300 to $400 a week for working 10 to 11 hour shifts every day.
“We don’t get paid [well]. We have a really low income. There are a lot of people who need food,” says Miguel, whose average weekly wage is $350, less than the minimum wage required in the city of Los Angeles. When asked why her wages are so low, Miguel tells us that she doesn’t know: “I don’t know if the [factory] doesn’t get paid [well] from Fashion Nova. I don’t know what happens there. We only get paid a little bit of money and we work a lot.”
As of April 2020, it’s been revealed that Fashion Nova has over a $450 million net worth. So what’s causing the discrepancy in payments? According to Marissa Nuncio, Director of the Garment Worker Center, the responsibility remains with brands. “We’ve learned from the Department of Labor investigation that often brands are paying insufficiently for their orders for it to enable factory workers to pay minimum wage and overtime.” The drastic wage theft is nothing new to garment makers in Los Angeles (and globally), but with the uprise of the coronavirus, the strikingly low incomes have left women food and housing insecure with no savings to think of and uncertainty about when they might return to work again.
Fashion Nova is no exception to this problem. As Nuncio shared, “We know from our ongoing work that Fashion Nova has been a bad actor for quite some time, and we’ve seen terrible wages in their supply chain for quite some time.”
Between Fashion Nova’s consistent low wages for garment makers and the partial layoffs by the brand’s factories, Fashion Nova’s attempt to present itself as a responsible and caring brand comes off as much less than authentic. Rather, Fashion Nova is playing more the role of a “do-gooder” here than it is a good-doer.
How can it be that this fashion behemoth is promising one million dollars to fans of the brand through its Fashion Nova Cares campaign while neglecting to demonstrate any kind of public or private support for the women making its clothing? Fashion Nova’s garment makers, who literally stitch together Cardi B’s designs, have worked for years to the betterment of this enormously profitable brand — and now, as factories begin to lay off many of these women (while simultaneously being untruthful with them), Fashion Nova is proclaiming a generosity of its wealth to those in need during the coronavirus — but aren’t the brand’s makers the ones in need?
If Fashion Nova and Cardi B truly want to represent all that they are aiming to emulate with their $1,000 an hour campaign, they need to first look at the makers whose labor they have built their empire on. It’s not until this brand recognizes the women who make their clothes and starts to care about them that we’ll believe Fashion Nova Cares.