PARIS — Hennes & Mauritz AB is disputing allegations made in a Swedish television documentary broadcast this week claiming the retail giant is not doing enough to ensure that workers producing its garments in Cambodia are paid a fair wage.
The dire conditions faced by garment industry workers worldwide have come under renewed scrutiny after a factory fire in Pakistan last month killed 300 people.
The Swedish program, “Kalla Fakta,” said many factory employees in Cambodia struggle to survive on their salary. The Clean Clothes Campaign, a Netherlands-based alliance of labor unions and nongovernmental organizations, said the minimum wage for garment workers in Cambodia is $61 per month, which represents less than 25 percent of a living wage.
“Low wages come at a high cost. Last year, over 2,400 workers passed out in Cambodian factories due to malnutrition as a direct consequence of low salaries. But H&M, one of Cambodia's main buyers, continues to refuse to pay a living wage to its workers,” stated Jeroen Merk of the International Clean Clothes Campaign. RELATED STORY: Forever 21 in Labor Department's Sights >>
H&M said the documentary contained a number of inaccuracies. “The angle in the program Kalla Fakta is that H&M’s competitors are far ahead of H&M when it comes to implementation of a so-called living wage. It is presented as if H&M does not support the living wage in our Code of Conduct. This is not correct,” it said.
“Our code has the same level of ambition when it comes to the wage issue as other companies’ Codes of Conduct; the legal minimum wage is the basic requirement, and with the ambition that one should be able to live off the salary. It is what you do that makes a difference, and when it comes to these issues we are in forefront,” it added.
“We want a permanent change, negotiated between workers and employers. This should be done by collective agreement that all workers in a country could benefit from,” H&M concluded.
The Clean Clothes Campaign said H&M had held a number of high-profile meetings with Cambodian officials to call for a minimum wage, but added that this was not a sufficient response. It called for H&M to issue a public statement of support for trade union demands that the minimum salary be increased to $131, and to build an action plan for paying this amount with suppliers.
“We support the idea of building a respectful dialogue between the trade unions and the employers in Cambodia, but H&M must also play its part,” stated Athit Kong, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union.
“We call upon our Swedish union friends to make sure H&M is brought to the table to negotiate a real agreement with Cambodian and international unions that will improve the conditions for the Cambodian workers,” he said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast