We love dressing up nice clothes, nice shoes, nice bags. We look at the fashionable shining items at the windows of the shops (now in fact on the Instagram), and are craving for the sales to buy those gorgeous pair of shoes, or sometimes even can’t wait to buy them.
Thanks to fast fashion trend, many of us can afford and consume fashion items marketed by those companies; Zara, Mango and alike which become more affordable during the sales.
During shopping, we quickly scan the shop, pick up the items we like, we try them on, and if it is within our budget, we pay for it, get it packed, and wear them on the very next day of the week.
Do we think at all how this sequinned nice tshirt has arrived at the shelves of Zara? At what condition it was manufactured, by which hands, at what prices?
This is a really not a one-million-dollar question, but unfortunately we are ignorant of the backstage of textile factories, putting the words rightly, small textile ateliers unless one is in the industry.
I have been in the fashion business for a year or so, however, what I have witnessed is not so cheering up a smile on our faces.
I was thinking on writing about this topic for days. Yesterday I came across this article at the Forbes’ online magazine regarding Forbes Women Summit panel that dealt with importance of sleep for the brain functions. It was telling how women CEOs of multinational companies work hard, with their other burdens, and how they do not pay enough attention to their sleeps’ well-being and how this affects their life quality and so on and so forth. The article ends with this real-politic sentence: ‘We are in 21st century workforce labouring in a 20th century workplace.’ When I saw this sentence, I said that this was the caption of my blog page.
Yes, that is so true, we are in the 21st century, yet workplaces are far back from 21st century. Let me give a couple of examples that prove this fact. I will give these anecdotes out of my limited experience, probably more heavy condition must be occurring elsewhere in Turkey and in those countries in which textile manufacturing are widely spread.
Let’s start with what they listen to in terms of radio channel in those ateliers; as this reflects roughly about their time tunnel. I remember I used to listen to those taverna and arabesque genre of music back in my teen years, 20-25 years ago. The radios are still tuned in those channels in most of the ateliers, pathetic, emotion-loaded lyrics and poignant overtone. I was shocked with the fact that this kind of music still exists and more surprisingly they are listened to. Moreover what I realized that those channels accept calls from the audience, and most of the audience are from textile industry, yet they don’t declare themselves working in one of those ateliers, calling their job with more posh names. But everyone in the atelier knows where he or she works, what she or he does, as they make jokes about regarding his or her telephone talk on the radio.
Another frustrating observation of mine was the fact that those workers, especially men, may not have any shelter to dwell for he is an immigrant or he separated from home for some reasons. And those men live and work at the same place, in these very ateliers. They sleep in “mini bedrooms” they made under textile cutting tables. I remember that once, as an early bird, I went to atelier, asked for my premier, others were saying something, one was saying he is here, another saying he has been outside, trying to find an answer to my question. Suddenly, he raised his head from the table under which he was sleeping.
Most of these workers are not secured in terms of social services, even many foreign workers are available without work-permission. I won’t mention on this, yet this is not a problem of this industry only.
What is most worrying regarding those ateliers, smoking ban is not applied at all, and this threatens the very health of many workers. Yet a warning reading “smoking is banned in this workplace” displays on the wall.
What is even more pathetic ıs people’s perception about those ateliers and their workers. On one of the days that I spent hours in the atelier, I wanted to order steak house from Burger King. The call center took all the details, finally when he asked about what kind of place the demand was coming from, I answered “it is a textile atelier”, he stopped one second and said to me “I understand you!”