Fashion Revolution is now just TWO WEEKS away so there’s no time like the present to give you a 5 point recap of what the garment industry is like in the Kingdom of Wonder.
1. Any of these ring a bell?
These are just a handful of the many brands that manufacture their products in Cambodia. There are over 500 garment factories in Cambodia. The garment sector holds the largest piece of the country’s manufacturing pie and accounts for 80% of Cambodia’s exports. The majority of these garment exports end up in department stores of the United States.
2. Bong Sreys
“Bong Srey” is the Khmer expression for “sister” which is how one respectfully refers to a woman. Out of the 700,000 (and growing) Cambodians that make up the country’s garment factory workers, 91% are women. In recent years, Cambodian garment workers have fought for a living wage of $160 a month. Under pressure from unions and buyers the Cambodian government raised the monthly minimum wage from $128 to $140 in January this year, falling short of the amount demanded by the unions.
“Barang” is the Khmer way of referring to a foreigner, although the word literally refers to a French person (after effects of the colonisation). Frenchies aside though, 93% of export oriented garment factories exist due to foreign direct investment (FDI) and only a meek 5% of garment factories are actually Cambodian owned. This unfortunately reflects the limited leverage and autonomy Cambodian factories have in strategic decision making.
4. The materials
While Cambodia’s manufacturing industry is heavily centered around the garment sector, it is almost completely dependent on imported textile material which accounts for over 25% of the economy’s total merchandise imports. No substantial support has been provided to attract domestic fabric production so the country is still quite susceptible to rising material prices.
GOOD KRAMA’s textile supply chain begins & ends in Cambodia. We love working with entire communities of weavers that keep the ancient tradition alive. Before the war, Cambodia actually had a strong cotton production market. All of our silks and cotton kramas are handwoven in the Takeo Province.
5. Mama Earth in all this
It is safe to say that the Cambodian garment industry still has a whole lot of work to do regarding workers rights. While there is a slow but steady increase in social protection, environmental regulation still remains far back on the list of priorities. Good thing there are some amazing communities out there that are trying to do things differently and take into account the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
GOOD KRAMA is proud to track the eco impact each of our garments have on the environment. Nerding out and collecting data on our waste, CO2 and water consumptions allows us to constantly innovate and work to offset this impact while still providing you with killer clothes that don’t actually kill our mama Earth.