The fashion community is plagued with scandals about stealing designs, racism and unethical labor practices. Most recently, H&M received massive amounts of hate for putting out a picture of a sweatshirt reading “the coolest monkey in the jungle” worn by a young black model. This is the most recent and most widely known scandal amongst fast fashion brands, but it’s far from the only one.
Another brand to attract negative attention for unethical practices is Zara, a Spanish fast fashion brand. In the past they have been accused of anti-Semitism, ripping off young designers, using child and slave labor (including young Syrian refugees) and have even been sued by a woman who found a dead mouse stitched into an article of their clothing, according to British online newspaper, The Independent.
In 2007, Zara was criticized for selling a purse that featured a swastika as part of its design. According to BBC News, a Zara spokesperson said, “Had the symbol been seen we would not have sourced that particular handbag,” Once the controversy broke, it was almost immediately removed from all Zara stores.
In 2014, they were once again accused of anti-Semitism when they put a toddler’s shirt in their stores that featured stripes and a Star-of-David-like design that reminded many shoppers of the uniforms Jews were forced to wear in German concentration camps during World War II. It was quickly pulled from stores.
As much as Zara would like us to believe they had no intent to offend, it’s hard to. Unless the company puts so little effort into stocking its shelf as to not notice a swastika, they must have known. If they really put that little effort into their stores, what does that say about their priorities? It says that they don’t care about their costumers, fashion or ethics. Only money.
In the wake of the blowback against H&M and their recent mistake, we have to remember that this problem is not a new one. Whether these racist mistakes are careless and idiotic marketing flubs or malicious racism amongst the company’s higher ups is an irrelevant question. We have to hold these brands responsible for these decisions – purposeful or not.
On top of the anti-Semitic designs, Zara has recently faced accusations of a more criminal nature. Notes have been found in the pockets of their clothing in stores in Istanbul. The clothing, made in a Turkish factory, had notes slipped into the pockets that translated to “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it” and other concerning messages from the labor force.
The workers were looking for support in their campaign to force Zara to address poor factory conditions and to make them do something about their unpaid labor. The workers were left unpaid after a third-party manufacturer, Bravo Tekstil, closed overnight without giving the laborers months of pay, according to The Independent.
Zara has yet to do anything to rectify this problem and has barely done anything to even recognize it. We as customers should do our part and avoid their stores and products until they address this problem. If we do not boycott them, they will never change their ways.
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