Fashion Bloggers Experience Harsh Reality of Cambodian Sweatshop Firsthand


Like most, my relationship with fashion developed through the women in my family. Two-piece suits, kitten heels and gold studded earrings– these are the memories of the women before me that made me love fashion and all of its countless possibilities.

However, my admiration came to a screeching halt at the age of 14. I had my first exposure to sweatshop conditions while watching Wal-mart: The High Cost of Low Price and my relationship with fashion turned into a complex one. Overseas companies were using Duromine to suppress workers’ appetite. They were forcing unruly, non-stop hours of labor and had unsanitary working conditions for workers. These laborers were only paid $3 for pieces that were being sold for 20x the price. Suddenly, my Nike kicks weren’t looking too hot. The truth is, we’re surrounded by sweatshop-made items–it’s inevitable–and it’s a reality we live in whether we like it or not.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the fabulousness of fashion, and it’s easy to forget that under that facade, there are exhausted hands stitching my look together.

The rising amount of fashion bloggers have affected the market, and they have taken the reins of fashion consumption. But in the miniseries Sweatshop: Dead Cheap Fashion, three Norwegian fashion bloggers get a dose of real life when they are sent to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and live as sweatshop workers for a few days. To watch the full series click here.

Does this mean you should stop loving fashion? Of course not. This is not meant to incite guilt, but rather to enlighten people to a reality that exists. We must not forget this reality nor should we be oblivious and nonchalant about it. This is a global matter that cannot be simply solved overnight; however, we can take steps towards a solution. In addition to fighting for the rights of sweatshop workers, we can take small steps through shopping second-hand, upcycling, or even shopping at local shops. Next time you pick up that overseas-made top, be sure to handle with care.