Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Garment Workers

We are living in very strange times. Entering 2020 hopeful, with new 2020 visions, nobody could predict what was about to befall the global masses. With the outbreak of the corona virus and quarantines in place around the globe, economies are shattered, the stock exchange has plummeted, businesses struggling to survive, everyone can feel the effects of this global pandemic.

Some of the people deeply affected are the garment workers, who are amongst the most vulnerable workers in the global economy and have their livelihoods at risk as factories struggle to stay afloat. Factories rely heavily on imports of raw materials such as zippers, buttons, and fabric from China. The shortage of these raw materials puts a great strain on their operations. Consumers are also only spending on necessities right now and with the quarantine brick and mortar stores have had to close which puts a strain on brands. In Myanmar, 20 factories have been shut down forcing 10,000 workers into unemployment. Many owners have refused to compensate and instead are nowhere to be found. The question is what role should the fashion industry play in ensuring the 40 million garment workers in their supply chains get compensated as they risk falling into crippling poverty?

More than 1 million garment workers in Bangladesh already have lost their jobs or have been furloughed due to the over $2.8 billion in orders cancelled or put on hold as the COVID-19 crisis continues to worsen. This leaves the factory owners high and dry as many of these orders were completed and ready to ship and some had been partially completed where all the raw materials were purchased and paid for. According to a survey of 319 garment factory owners in Bangledesh, conducted by the Centre for Global Workers’ Rights (CGWR), “72.4% said they were unable to provide their workers with some income when furloughed (sent home temporarily), and 80.4% said they were unable to provide severance pay when order cancellations resulted in worker dismissals.”  Most of these factories will not even fight this injustice for fear of losing big contracts when the pandemic is over. This is a cruel reality of just how severe the power imbalance is between big global brands and their suppliers. Typical contractual agreements leave suppliers vulnerable, as brands get to decide when products should be shipped and payment is not made until after the shipment has been made.

The governments should be putting controls in place to protect their garment industry workers as well. In Bangladesh, they had apparently urged factories not to cut jobs, however, that has not stopped many of them from laying off thousands of workers without any pay. They need to put stronger enforcement to ensure this doesn’t happen. These workers will not be finding other jobs right now to bring in money to their already impoverished households. This is a huge humanitarian crisis. The government has announced a $588 million package to help the crucial export sector pay its workers, but labor leaders say that this is not enough. These wealthy brands themselves need to step up and help out as well. These are the people making their clothes after all.

As the rest of the world stocks up their fridges and cupboards ensuring they will never miss a good meal or snack, millions of garment workers are left without the ability to put food on the table for their families. This is a time for brands to show their sense of humanity and find a way to pay for the work that has been done. The CGWR recommends that:

“The responsible approach is for brands and retailers
to find ways to access lines of credits or other forms of
government support to cover their obligations to supplier factories so that they can cover their expenses and
pay their workers in order to avoid sending millions of
workers home with no ability to put food on the table
let alone cover medical expenses.”

It’s the right thing to do.

The CGWR outlines a list of brands that have committed to pay what they owe and the ones that have not. Below is a visual of these stats by @xrfashionaction.

The big 6 retailers outlined that have said they are committed to fulfilling payment on their orders already produced or in production include: H&M, Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, etc), Target, French brand Kiabi, VF Corp (North Face) and PVH (Tommy Hillfiger). This is not a problem one brand can solve, but the collective commitment from all of these big retailers would make a huge impact on the lives of these vulnerable garment workers. The problem is, there is no situation in which suppliers have any leverage or recourse if brands don’t keep their end of a deal.

Many have said they won’t cancel orders, but that doesn’t mean they will pay either. That would mean they expect them to hold the order for now however, payment isn’t made until goods are shipped so ‘not cancelling orders’ does nothing to help the situation of the garment worker unless the factories are getting paid. There’s a lot of semantics around public verbiage that can seem like they are doing more than they are.

According to Vogue Business, “suppliers in Bangladesh and other manufacturing countries look with worry to the future as brands back down from the projections of orders they had given to factories. Suppliers understand that brands are facing unprecedented uncertainty about their own futures — but they have a much smaller financial cushion than brands and lack the safety net protections of government bailouts for businesses or social services for laid-off workers. They are calling on brands to extend their sense of responsibility to their full supply chains, rather than cutting it off at their own assets and employees.”

What are your thoughts on this topic? How do you think garment workers can best be protected during this corona virus pandemic? Who should be responsible? I would love to hear your thoughts on this, so please feel free to share your opinions below. Stay safe, stay home and keep healthy everyone 🙂

Happy International Women’s Day!

For over a century, International Women’s Day has been a significant force in unifying women globally to celebrate each other and collectively fight for their rights and freedoms. It seems like on the surface it’s the best time to be a woman so, what’s left to fight for? There is still so much work to be done. A gender pay gap still persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Figures show that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men. So, it’s important that women have this outlet to create awareness that these inequalities still exist and also to celebrate women and their achievements to keep pushing them forward and to raise each other up!

80% of garment workers globally are women. They are exploited on a daily basis. The fight for their rights and freedom is essentially a women’s issue. If women don’t lead this fight nobody else will. For this post, I want to celebrate some key women in the fashion industry that have been pivotal in the fight for fair labour and sustainability in fashion and who are so inspiring to me and many others.



Carry Somers is a fashion designer and the founder of Fashion Revolution Day. After the tragic Rana Plaza disaster of April 2013, she felt compelled to find a way that the victims of Rana Plaza and all the other tragedies that have occurred in the name of fashion will never be forgotten. Fashion Revolution Day would be the driving force to bring about real change in the industry. “On 24 April, people around the world, high street shops and high couture, cotton farmers and factory workers, and anyone who cares about what they wear – come together to call for change. It is a global platform which we can all use to ask questions, raise standards and set an industry-wide example of what better looks like. By celebrating best practice, we can change lives.” The Fashion Revolution Movement has grown to over 500 global partnerships, 118 policy makers engaged in 18 countries, 231 student embassadors in 22 countries, and 762k online following.



Safia Minney is an award-winning British social entrepreneur, the pioneer of fair trade and ethical fashion with her label People Tree and the founder of World Fairtrade Day. She is also the author of 9 books about sustainable and ethical fashion. People Tree is the first fashion company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organization product label. Safia Minney has set a precedent and a fine example that her model of fairtrade and sustainability works in fashion. Not only does it work, but it helps to eleviate communities out of poverty and into self-sufficiency, impacting their livelihoods immensely.



Emma Watson is a British actress and activist for gender equality and ethical fashion. She is the UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador. Emma continually showcases and discusses her sustainable and ethical fashion choices in an effort to incite change and get us to make smarter choices. It’s refreshing to see when celebrities use their platform to create positive change. We can’t undermine how much weight their words and actions carry in influencing others. Hundreds of thousands of people around the globe are now getting a message of sustainable and ethical fashion thanks to her advocacy. In fact, she even made sure her red dress and cape costume from Beauty and the Beast was all eco-friendly. With the use of up-cycled vintage fabrics and GOTS-certified (global organic textile standard) organic cotton and linen and natural dyes, they ensured all components of her costume was 100 percent sustainable. Hopefully designers everywhere can learn from this that if motivated enough, anything is possible.



Livia firth is the Founder and Creative Director of Eco Age, a consultancy firm working with brands who want to improve or build sustainability into their supply chain. She was also the Executive Director of the documentary “The True Cost” that changed so many people’s perception of fashion including my own. In addition, she founded the “Green Carpet Challenge,” which seeks to influence celebrities to wear ethical and sustainable designs to high profile events to shine a light on sustainability and social welfare in fashion. In addition to all of that fabulousness, Live Firth is also a women’s rights campaigner, having launched The Circle — an advocacy group working to overcome poverty and empower women around the world.

With the examples of these inspiring women and so many more globally, it just goes to show that collectively we can make change happen. When we do anything with intention, purpose and motivation, women are unstoppable! #EachForEqual

A Swedish mall like no other

ReTuna Återbruksgalleria shopping centre

How cool is this?!  A whole mall dedicated to restoring and recycling!  I would soooo shop here.    Man, those Europeans sure know what they’re doing when it comes to sustainable practices.   What are your thoughts?  Would you shop at this mall?

Read the full story here:

Sweden’s cool new sustainable mall!


Eco innovation: Reebok’s compostable sneaker

The race is on for brands to find more sustainable materials for their products and Reebok has taken to the challenge very seriously! In the October 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings magazine, you will find an article about Reeboks new innovative sustainable closed loop sneakers.

“Reebok is introducing a completely compostable sneaker designed to neither harm the environment when created nor potentially clog a landfill when discarded. The shoe’s upper section is made of sustainable organic cotton, while the sole is derived from industrially grown corn, harvested when it’s older and tougher. Even the eyelets are stitched, using no metal or plastic.”

Now this is truly a step in the right direction!

reebok plant-based sneakers

Valentine Pop-up Shop!

Come drop in to our one day pop up shop conveniently located in uptown Toronto just off the 401.   It’s a great opportunity to be able to feel our soft modal fabric in person and try on whatever you’d like!  Treat yourself this Valentine’s Day to fashion that is local, ethical, and sustainable and will give you lots of love for years to come!  If interested in attending please send an email to info@truvogue.com or call (647) 885-3610 and Iwill send you the location details or add you to the private facebook event.

Tru has joined the Ethik community!

We are very excited to announce our recent collaboration with Ethik Boutique and eco-design hub.  Ethik is a Montreal based boutique that sells ethical brands from Canada and abroad. Check them out at https://ethik-bgc.ca/

Ethik is a collective of FEM International (www.feminternational.org), a not-for-profit whose mission is to support women empowerment through social entrepreneurship.  Together they organized a successful fundraising fashion show last week in which Tru dawned the runway.  Here are some photos that were in Le Huffington Post Quebec

.  See the whole article here http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/11/29/soiree-benefice-mode-ethique–bulles-fem-internationa_n_13302942.html

Tru is now online!


Hellooooo my friends!  It’s been awhile I know …I haven’t blogged in quite some time but that is all about to change and I have lots of things I want to write about.  I have been working hard to bring our collection to you right in the comfort of your own homes!  I am sooooo thrilled to announce the launch of our online store 🙂  Please check it out at www.truvogue.com when you get a moment.  We ship throughout North America and if anyone would like to purchase any items internationally please email info@truvogue.com and we will work something out.  Also, if you subscribe you will receive 10% off your first purchase!

This first collection is called ‘Essentials’ because it focuses on buildable staple pieces that every wardrobe needs. The fabric is super comfortable and breathable made out of the softest, eco-friendly modal fabric that feels like butter against the skin.   All the pieces from this collection were made ethically right here in Toronto, Canada!!  So shop local, shop ethical and care for the planet at the same time 🙂