Ethical laborMade to orderSlow fashion

A high price tag does not always guarantee ethical wages for your fashion products

A high price tag does not always guarantee ethical wages for your fashion products
By Renoon

It is very easier to fall under the assumption that because luxury brands sell expensive items, the wages that their garment workers receive are also high, however, this isn’t always the case.

A high price tag is not a guarantee of ethical practices, and here is why.

When starting their sustainability journeys, a lot of people tend to associate high mark-ups to high workers’ wages. And why wouldn’t they? Since they’re paying for a luxurious item, they probably expect for the production process to be more costly – it takes more people to create said pieces, the craftsmanship is more detailed, among others.

However, it is important to highlight that a high price tag doesn’t always equal to ethical wages.

But, why? Let’s dive in…

A high price tag doesn't always guarantee ethical wages 2021

Your €500 coat and €10 sweater might have been produced in the same factory

Now more than ever, many luxury brands have prioritized profit maximisation within their business model, which has led them to outsource their manufacturing process to other countries. Since profit depends on companies increasing the difference between a garment’s sale price and its production cost, it is no surprise that they usually select countries where the living wage is significantly low.

These manufacturing companies are usually located in Eastern European and Asian countries where – funnily enough – fast fashion brands also produce their items!

Luxury brands pay their workers the same amount fast fashion brands do, or even lower

A high price tag doesn't always guarantee ethical wages 2021
A positive example: ZAZI Vintage

Luxury brands adopting the same production process as fast fashion brands means that they pay their workers the same wage. According to the Clean Clothes Campaign Org. report, some high-fashion brands pay one-third of what would constitute a minimum living wage.

Additionally, a UK parliamentary report published in 2019, recorded that 24 brands– including many high-profile houses –were not complying with the country’s Modern Slavery Act as of December. And some of the companies mentioned declined to comment.

Fashion’s main priority should be transparency

Sustainability goes beyond environmental protection. It’s not just about the clothes, but also about who makes the clothes and their treatment.

A high price tag doesn't always guarantee ethical wages 2021

Recently, some companies have promised commitments to drive change. Several major brands have teamed up with organizations like IndustriALL Global Union, to use their purchasing power to enable better working conditions and push for industry-level wage agreements.

But how do we know these brands are actually committing to their promises?

There’s no way of 100% knowing if these brands are actually providing a fair life to their workers. The only thing we can demand from them is transparency – this way it is easier for us to demand better treatment for garment workers, as well as knowing which brands we should and should not support!

A high price tag doesn't always guarantee ethical wages 2021
ZAZI Vintage: Transparent Pricing

In the app, there is the topic “Transparent Pricing” – where you can find brands that disclose what you are paying for.

You can also find further research + ways to support garment workers in organizations like Remake – you can find their list of approved brands on the app!

What to read next


What is Renoon?

A new way to discover and shop fashion responsibly

Renoon is a leading app for sustainability and fashion. We connect our members with the multitude of brands and platforms to simplify and enrich the experience of combining style with sustainability values.

A destination and community launched in 2021, guiding thousands of members in their sustainability journey. Renoon is not yet another shop; it’s an entire universe of values, untold stories about sustainability and a cohesive place where intentions become reality.

Edit & personalize the sustainability topics in the free app: unlock the universe of values you care about.

Download it now
apple store icongoogle play store icon