Many small fashion labels produce "fair" in the EU, mostly in Portugal. Bangladesh, on the other hand, is considered a no-go for most consumers as a place of production. But why actually?
Of course, most people now know that workers are being exploited there and that there is still a long way to go to fair and safe working conditions. The minimum wage in Bangladesh is around 80 euros/month and is not enough to live on. According to the AFW (ASIA FLOOR WAGE), a living wage that would sufficiently finance life was 377 euros/month in 2017.
And in Portugal? Since the minimum wage this year to 4.40 euros / hour. and adjusted to 740 euros/month. You read that right. In 2022 for 4.40 euros/hour. working now doesn't sound like a lot either. Of course, it is also cheaper to live there than in Germany. But the relationship still doesn't seem right.
Almost all of the Kreuzueber socks come from Germany, a few leftovers come from Portugal, the hats are from Serbia and the shirts and hoodies are mainly from a “fair” wholesaler from Belgium.
This wholesaler produces most of its goods in Bangladesh. However, it is affiliated with the Fair Wear Foundation ( you can find out more here ), which independently inspects and checks the factories. As a result, working conditions can be permanently improved on site. But that does not mean that they are perfect from now on. Some no-gos have already been addressed there: child labor is prohibited, gender equality is respected, workers have the right to form a union...
So why not produce in Bangladesh as well? Kreuzueber has never made a secret of where the goods come from, nor removed their labels or anything else.
As part of Kreuzueber, I feel the same way as most small labels that produce “fairly and sustainably” feel. In the beginning or in the long run, they usually fall back on two large producers for raw materials and they produce under the above-mentioned fair conditions in India or Bangladesh.
And I think that's okay! Produce or source your clothes from Bangladesh if the conditions are right. But don't just hide it. And remember: "Fair and sustainable" doesn't mean the same thing there as it does in Portugal, and even in Portugal it doesn't mean the same thing as it does in Germany or anywhere else within the EU.
However, if you publicly demonize Bangladesh as a place of production and question all seals from there and then secretly have your goods produced there, I cannot take seriously those who claim to be “fair and sustainable” without comment. It's a scandal that shouldn't have been.
Please do not get me wrong. I think it's good that there are many small labels that produce their stuff to the best of their knowledge and belief. And Portugal, as a place of production, is easy to reach from Germany to see where and how goods are manufactured. And it also has a long textile tradition that needs to be preserved and adapted to modern times in terms of fairness and sustainability, which is already happening in many places!
And for most seamstresses, the hourly wage is fixed
I am for full support of small and sustainable labels because they are trying to make the world a better place.
The Kreuzueber concept is as follows: to source all cotton products in organic quality, that other materials used should be recycled and that they also contain no animal products. Kreuzüber is currently working with partners who are as fair and sustainable as possible. Fairness and sustainability still have their limits.
As a result, everything is still a long way from how I imagine a fair world and I also have to rely on our partners and seals at work.
To go a little further, Kreuzueber donates 10% of profits to cool organizations that do good work where it's needed. Because this work also has to be paid for! That drives me. It's certainly not all perfect, but I'm doing my best to lead my life and our company as well and fairly as possible.
It is an important task to get things under control and improve as quickly as possible at the production sites. Pulling production out of Bangladesh or Portugal is a step in the wrong direction. That doesn't help anyone there either.
Sufficient wages must be paid at every production site, whether in the EU or around the world, to enable all workers to have a good life. And in my opinion, this is currently not the case in either Europe or Bangladesh.
Oh wait a minute. Even in Germany, people, no matter how old they are and whether or how long they have worked in their life, are queuing up in front of the blackboard... Why again?
Yes, I am also part of the capitalist system and as ambivalent as it may seem, I would like to abolish it.
As always, ask and question the things you use. Criticizes the system. As consumers , we must also emancipate ourselves from the green-washed idea that a seal automatically means an ideal world. We have to know that it can only become fairer and more sustainable bit by bit. Because this is the only way, I hope, that our society will progress.