The fashion industry is still being blamed
Against the oppression of Muslim people amid demonstrations in China New revelations about the SHEIN brand, let’s think.
It will soon be three years since the ASPI (Australian Policy Strategy Institute) published a report condemning the many international companies profiting from the exploitation of the Uyghur workforce. By cooperating with the factories where the citizens of this nation are forced to work, these companies are accused of complicity in their persecution. This exploitation is part of the genocidal policy (implemented by the Chinese government since the 2010s) that the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region have been subjected to. Considered a shame list in France, the ASPI list featured many fashion brands and has grown ever since. Many have denied these accusations, while others remain silent.
In 2022, the repression continues, it is remembered by the tragedy that happened in the capital of Xinjiang on November 24: 10 Uighurs died in a fire. Due to the government’s “Zero Covid” policy, which is particularly strict for Uyghurs, they have not been able to leave their apartments. Since then, Uyghur, Chinese and international protesters have voiced their anger, and companies accused of profiting from the exploitation of the people are back in the spotlight. Where is the fashion in this matter?
In late November, the topic resurfaced in the industry after Bloomberg media published an investigation proving that ultra-fast fashion giant SHEIN uses cotton produced in the Xinjiang region and is therefore linked to the exploitation of Uighurs. A new controversy for this China-based brand known for its disastrous ecological and environmental impact. But is SHANE the tree that hides the forest? This is explained by the Pay Your Influence account, which claims that 20% of the world’s cotton comes from Xinjiang and that many brands listed by ASPI in 2020 never responded to the charges or did not/no longer cooperate with Xinjiang suppliers. without providing sufficient evidence. According to the Fashion Network, this was still the case for Authentic Brands, Fila, Dangerfield, CostCo, Cerruti 1881, Skechers, Caterpillar, Zegan, Li-Ning, LL Bean, Jeanswest (Harbour Guidance), Jack&Jones (Bestseller) or Major. 2022.
Puma, Adidas and Hugo Boss announced that they had ended all cooperation with their Xinjiang suppliers, but last May they again came under suspicion. Spain’s Inditex group (owner of Zara, Bershka, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Zara Home and Utergüe), Japan’s Uniqlo and France’s SMCP (Sandro, Maje, Claudie Pierlot and De Fursac) are under attack. for covering up crimes against humanity, was filed in June 2021 in French justice by the Collective Ethics label, the Sherpa association and the European Uyghur Institute, and a Uyghur survivor. Last May, the hashtag #FreeUyghurs flooded a post from Nike, showing public disbelief at the brand’s claims that it was reviewing its production chains in China from March 2021.
“Nike does not purchase products from the XUAR region and we have verified with our contracted suppliers that they do not use textiles or spun yarns from this region. … We have conducted an ongoing survey of our suppliers in China to identify and assess the potential risks of forced labor associated with the employment of Uyghurs or other ethnic minorities from the Xinjiang Autonomous Region “in other parts of China”.comma explained in a press release.
What is the industry saying?
Since the scandal broke in 2020, the fashion media has covered the topic, especially in the general and women’s press (Elle or Marie Claire), but very few media have focused exclusively on fashion. Condé Nast, one of the industry’s biggest conglomerates, talked about it in Teen Vogue, but little in its flagship US Vogue or even the French edition. Finally, independent media (such as Antidote or ANCRÉ) and professional press (Vogue Business, Fashion Network or Business of Fashion) mentioned the topic the most on their platforms. While several industry figures have spoken out strongly, many influencers and influencers continue to collaborate with brands accused of the “list of shame.”
We need laws
Due to a lack of transparency and legislation to force them to do better, it’s hard to know if the accused brands have actually changed their practices, even if they say so. But the situation is changing: the United States imposed an “Import Ban” in early June, which consists of seizing Chinese production whose components come from Xinjiang.
The European Commission is currently debating a similar measure (banning the exploitation of Uighurs in Europe) proposed by loyalist MEPs and human rights defenders. In June, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs and calling on Brussels to adopt the law. “New Commercial Device Banning Forced Labor Products in the European Union”. Now it remains to implement. On the French side, if the government recognizes the Uighur genocide from January 2022, researcher Dilnur Reyhan confirms on Instagram: “The struggle continues because the French government has yet to do anything concrete, Europe is leery of China’s genocidal regime in the context of the war in Ukraine, and the genocide against the Uyghur people continues with renewed vigor.“
To follow news of the Uyghur struggle, ANCRÉ recommends you follow Uyghurs News, Dilnur Reyhan, Uyghur Institute of Europe and Paye Ton Influence.
*In particular: Adidas, H&M, COS, Weekday, Monki, H&M HOME, &Other Stories, ARKET, AFound, Lacoste, Nike, Zara, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Pull & Bear, Uterqüe, Stradivarius, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Brioni, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Amazon, Puma, Ikea, Uniqlo, Muji, GAP, C&A, Patagonia, Cotton on, Carter’s, Badger Sport, Esprit, Abercrombie & Fitch, Polo Ralph Lauren, Target Australia, Victoria’s Secret, Woolworths, Maje, Claudie Pierlot, Sandro, De Fursac, Hart Schaffner Marx, Fila, Dangerfield, Costco, Cerruti 1881, Skechers, Summit Resource International, Zegna, Hugo Boss, Asics, Li-Ning, LLBe , Jeanswest, Jack & Jones, Major, Marks & Spencer