As you shop for outfits for the little ones in your life, peruse the racks of miniature duds at shops like The Children’s Place, how often do you think about the garment workers who made their clothes? What are their working conditions like? Are they able to provide for their children? Sewing machine operators, pressers, cutters, or assembly line workers for a supplier for major clothing brands — how are they treated for making the clothes that your children wear?
It’s no secret that exploitative conditions abound in the garment industry. (And you care about them, because you’re reading this!) With fewer regulations and cheaper working conditions, the majority of US companies offshore production, which easily leads to unjust working conditions for millions of garment workers.
But a new outrage was added to these unjust working conditions when COVID hit the US in March 2020. Among many other brands, children’s apparel brands, Mothercare and The Children’s Place, did not make full payment to suppliers for orders that were already completed. The garment workers that work for these suppliers certainly felt the financial impact of that blow. Garment workers had done their job and worked to complete orders. And the response from the company? No pay, less pay, or delayed pay.
Of course, for businesses, COVID turned everything upside down. With life grinding to a pause, businesses struggled to navigate the very uncertain economic reality of operating in a pandemic. But to not fully pay garment workers, the lowest paid and closest-to-the-margins employees for completed work? Unacceptable.
On their Environmental, Social and Governance page, The Children’s Place website claims that “they commit to supporting the workers within our supply chain” and “positively impacting the lives of the people who make our product and the communities affected by our business.”
As they adjusted to the new realities of COVID, The Children’s Place has not fulfilled their commitment to support garment workers, let alone positively impacted the lives of the people who make their product.
According to an August 2020 article from The Guardian, “Aida [pseudonym] 20, who has worked for a factory that produces clothing for TCP for three years, said her wages had been cut from $26 a month to $10 since March.”
Additionally, on their website, TCP highlights their partnership with a non-profit called Delivering Good. Through this partnership, they provide essentials to local communities, stating that “all any parent wants is the gift of being able to provide for their children.” But how can garment workers provide for their families if they are not receiving their promised pay?
On Mothercare’s webpage for Corporate Citizenship, they state that they are committed to partnering with suppliers who “provide decent, safe and fair working conditions for their employees [and] treat employees with dignity and respect.” If Mothercare does not fully pay for cancelled contracts, how can their suppliers meet these commitments?
At the time of this writing, a representative from the Worker Rights Consortium confirmed that The Children’s Place and Mothercare remain on their brand tracker list of brands that have “made no commitment to pay in full for orders completed and in production.” The PayUp Fashion campaign additionally confirms this.
Mothercare and The Children’s Place, and all brands who have not paid for completed work, can, should, and must do better. And we, as consumers (and parents!), can help them!
Show these brands that parents care about the conditions faced by the garment workers who make their children’s clothing. Sure, as a consumer you like adorable outfits, coupons, sales, and matching family pajamas — but at the expense of workers getting paid to produce these items? No piece of clothing is worth that much.
Demand that The Children’s Place, Mothercare, and other brands pay for cancelled orders by signing the PayUp Fashion petition. Take your business elsewhere until these brands can commit to paying their suppliers for all placed orders, ensuring that garment workers receive full payment for their work. Let these children’s apparel brands know that you will only clothe your children in clothing from brands who fully pay their suppliers, and ultimately, the garment workers who make their products.