Boohoo is going through the dust now that the British fashion brand is accused of slavery in a factory. Large online retailers such as Asos and Zalando immediately stopped the collaboration.
Sellers and influencers turn their backs
British fast-fashion brand Boohoo is accused of modern slavery in one of its production workshops, located in the English city of Leicester. The Sunday Times reports that workers in the factory earn only 3.89 euros per hour, are not sufficiently protected against the coronavirus (while there is just a resurgence) and have to work in appalling conditions.
Although the brand has reacted that the collaboration will be stopped if the supplier turns out not to meet the standards, large online platforms Asos, Next and Zalando have immediately removed the clothes from their virtual racks. Asos and Zalando are suspending sales pending the outcome of the retailer's investigation into the allegations.
British platform Next has launched its own investigation. The company says it wants to make sure that the two labels of the Boohoo Group it had in stock are purchased in a way that is acceptable. According to Bloomberg, the wholesale trade through partners such as Zalando would account for about 5% of Boohoo's total turnover. Celebrities and influencers, who are important in the marketing of the label, also distance themselves from the brand.
Boohoo focuses primarily on young people and excels in particularly fast 'fast-fashion': a new design can be ready for sale in just 48 hours. This is why the company also works with factories close to home, such as the one in Leicester, and not with Asian suppliers. However, the audits carried out in the factories in the United Kingdom now appear to leave a whole lot to be desired.
CEO John Lyttle commented in The Telegraph that the company wants to address the issue in clear terms: “We want to set a date, so we could say from this date on, everything you buy from Boohoo will be sustainable. There’s lots of work to do, but that’s the way it has to go.”
Meanwhile, the label also feels political pressure: the UK Home Secretary has asked for the factories to be investigated, calling the claims "really repugnant" according to Forbes and promising to curb modern slavery in Britain.