Dear Lilly Pulitzer,
I want to know. Who made my clothes?
I have been your customer for years. I love your style. The bold colors and prints bring me so much joy. My own daughter is even named Lilly. However, research from the Garment Worker Diaries has made me concerned that the women who make my clothes are not paid enough to afford life’s necessities and support their families. Furthermore, they are under-represented by unions that help them bargain for better wages and working conditions.
In the “Who Made My Clothes?” podcast, I learned how little workers are paid, such as the workers in Bangladesh that are paid as little as $1.40/hour on average, and that number is adjusted for the fact that it is cheaper to live there. Workers are not being paid enough to live on. For instance, 53 percent of women in the study in Cambodia reported not having enough to eat throughout the year. In Bangalore, India and in Bangladesh, only 7 percent of participants were members of a union.
The podcast discussed many barriers to workers being able to unionize, but it is important to me that workers in the factories where you manufacture your clothes are able to join a union. With a union, they would be able to raise concerns about their pay and working conditions.
I have asked you guys this question before (a few times, in fact), but I have yet to get an answer… so, I’m asking you again here on my blog:
Can you tell me how many workers in your Lilly Pulitzer fashion global supply chain are covered by collective bargaining agreements and/or are part of independent, democratically elected trade unions? If you don’t know, what sort of effort are you making to find out? Are you actively making sure that they can both join a union and raise their concerns? How are your garment workers paid? How are they treated? Do they have access to free or affordable childcare? Or are they able to earn enough to afford it? Are they given breaks? Overtime pay? Holidays off? Access to medical care?
These aren’t crazy things… these are basic needs.
I would really like to know, (I’ve wanted to know for a long time). Fashion Revolution (and I) will be measuring your progress and telling the world about it in the 2018 Fashion Transparency Index.
This isn’t just lip service or a random blog post on my part. This is my heart and my passion. I want to see people around the world treated with dignity and kindness. I, a very loyal and repeat customer, stopped buying from Lilly Pulitzer (and other fashion brands) nearly two years ago when I couldn’t get a straight answer (or an answer at all) to this question.
So, what can you tell me? (And please, I’d like a straight answer. Don’t just say your workers are happy.) What measures are you guys taking to ensure that the people who make your clothes are being treated like human beings and paid fairly so they can support themselves, their families, and their surrounding communities? What systems are put in place to check your factories? Do you visit them? Do you have a third party audit them? I want to know… because I really, truly do care.