Do you remember the childhood saying: “Secrets, secrets, are no fun, secrets, secrets, hurt someone”? In Victoria’s Secret’s case, secrets on (not so) ethical practices hurt more than just one person. They hurt the thousands of sweatshop workers sewing their garments.
Victoria’s Secret controls 40% of the United States Lingerie market. So where are these clothes coming from? Victoria’s Secret is owned by Limited Brands, a company which owns Bath and Body Works among others. Limited Brands contracts its work to sweatshops all around the globe, most predominantly in Jordan (with D.K. Factories), Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
At these sweatshops, workers work 14 – 15 hours every day. Overtime is mandatory. And to make our little bikinis, the workers are paid little amounts. Allotted 3.3 minutes to sew every $14 bikini, workers make only 4 cents.
Secrets of unethical practices are uncovered not only at the sewing stage, but even at their cotton supply. Victoria’s Secret purchases its cotton from Burkina Faso, hand plucked by child laborers. If they’re lucky, these children get one meal a day. None of them attend school.
But how can we buy our undergarments while making sure the workers are not undercharged? Check out Dottie’s Delights or Claudette, just two examples of companies who are combatting injustice on all levels, starting with the most intimate.
Written by Brooke Bonnema