‘Sustainable' Zara hoodie falls short of promises

‘Sustainable' Zara hoodie falls short of promises
Public Eye

According to Swiss NGO Public Eye, Zara earns more than twice as much per sweater than all of the people responsible for the production of the garment receive in total. Action group Clean Clothes Campaign argues in favour of raising the wages of textile workers to a 'liveable' level.


No transparency

Because Zara itself is not very transparent about the production process and the wages they pay to their workers, Public Eye decided to investigate the matter further, joining forces with the Clean Clothes Campaign and the French Collective ‘Éthique sur l'étiquette’. They bought a hoodie from the Join life collection, which Zara presents as "sustainable fashion". The sweater also had the slogan "Respect: find out what it means to me" printed on it. Together, the organisations exposed the entire process of the sweater in question, from the factory in Turkey through to the online shop where the garment was bought.


The researchers calculated that Zara makes a profit of 4.2 euros on the hoodie, which is sold for an average of 26.60 euros in Western Europe. All other links in the production process, such as the Indian cotton farmers and the Turkish factory workers, receive only 2.08 euros per garment in total, or less than half of what Zara earns.


Detailed figures

The Turkish textile workers earn between 310 and 390 euros per month, which, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign, corresponds to one third of a living wage. "There is an alternative to paying those meagre wages", spokesperson Sara Ceustermans told Belgian newspaper De Standaard. "For only 3.62 euros more per item, a living wage would be guaranteed for all of those people involved in the production process."


What is particular about this investigation is, that for the first time, all of the links in the production chain are included, such as the spinning, weaving and printing processes. "We have never had such detailed figures for the entire chain. [...] We have been asking clothing companies for a long time to make this kind of information public themselves, but they refuse to do so. That is why we did our own research."