Many of us are fashion aficionados. We buy the latest styles of denims and get the trendiest tees in the market. However, we always seem to disregard some very important factors of the industry we source these fashion stuff from: Who makes the garments? How are these done? How does the process of garment-making affect the environment? To answer these queries, Rama Ariadi talks with the team behind Good Krama, an ethical fashion label in Cambodia.
As an economy that has just started to experience a boom, there is little wonder why Cambodia’s financial resources have yet to diversify. In fact, despite the rapid modernisation of the country, the economy is still largely dominated by three sectors — tourism, agriculture, and last but not least, garment and textile manufacturing. Garment factories around the country employ more than 700,000 workers – many of whom are working for clothing manufacturers that focus on fast-fashion. Ultimately, these business are dictated by profit-making and product turn-arounds — and as such, the ultimate priority is cost-reduction through any possible means, including keeping wages low to keep their profit margins high.
But in a country like Cambodia, where general wages are already considered low compared to its regional counterparts, taking such strategy could mean taking food, shelter and education from those who needed them the most. Although on paper the minimum wage of garment workers has been set at $170 per month in 2018, many workers still have to survive with much less, despite the fact that external factors (i.e. declining orders due to global economic slowdown) have created extra exigencies that could leave these workers high and dry. And should things continue on its current trajectory, a repeat of what had happened in 2013 may not be a distant possibility.
This article has been written by Rama Ariadi for Khmer Times.
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