A Movement to Reform Fashion
Who we fight for: Mostly women garment workers
How we rise: Citizens who signed the original #PayUp Petition
Our Impact so far: dollars unlocked in unpaid contracts
The #PayUp campaign formed out of the fashion industry’s catastrophic decision to refuse payment for completed orders heading into the COVID-19 pandemic.
When stores were shuttered and fashion sales were in free-fall in March of 2020, global brands refused to pay for an estimated $40 billion worth of finished goods that garment workers had spent countless hours sewing. Millions of garment workers were laid off globally without pay as a direct result of the cancellations, sending them into the gravest economic crisis of our lifetimes without their paychecks or any savings.
#PayUp built a coalition of garment workers, experienced labor rights groups, NGOs, and fashion activists.
For two decades, garment workers have been working with NGO allies like Clean Clothes Campaign, United Students Against Sweatshops, and the Worker Rights Consortium to hold apparel brands accountable and support garment workers’ rights. When brands responded to the pandemic with massive retroactive cancellations of orders, as exposed in research published by the Center for Global Workers’ Rights at Penn State, this global network of organizers and advocates joined with Remake to demand that brands pay factories the billions they owe.
Strengthened by the power of social media, the #PayUp campaign went viral, with citizens all around the world using the #PayUp hashtag and over 270,000 people signing the original petition.
To date, the #PayUp campaign, using relentless protesting and petitioning, and citizen and worker solidarity, has helped to recoup $22 billion owed to garment factories worldwide from over a dozen major fashion companies including Zara, Gap and Next. Without the help of #PayUp, millions more workers would have lost their jobs without pay or any sort of social safety net. Its success is because of people like you who signed a petition, fired off a #PayUp tweet, or protested outside stores in solidarity with garment workers.
Building on this victory, there is much more to be done.
Many brands still refuse to #PayUp, and factories continue to underpay workers on a massive scale. The fact that our fight continues for basic human rights and economic justice for garment workers demonstrates an urgent need to build back better, assuring a fashion future that centers workers, citizens and our planet. That is where the story of PayUp Fashion and our 7 demands begins.
What’s the solution?
The future of fashion must include social protection and safety nets for workers. Wages for garment workers must be high enough to establish savings, and all workers must have access to health care and educational services. To get there, we call for binding rather than voluntary agreements to police the fashion industry; we call for legal and policy reform to reign in corporate power and hold brands accountable; we call for living wages. Post COVID-19, returning to business as usual is not an option. Our planet cannot sustain fashion’s hyper-growth and disposable consumption model at the cost of workers and our planet. It’s time for a new paradigm. The only future for the fashion industry is a sustainable, inclusive, and economically empowered one. These are not new or disputed goals. But they can no longer wait.
Who we are
PayUp Fashion was initiated by members of the #PayUp campaign, including Remake and journalist and author Elizabeth L. Cline, to build on the momentum of the now-viral #PayUp campaign. The 7 demands are co-authored by Remake founder Ayesha Barenblat, AWAJ Foundation’s Executive Director Nazma Akter, Stand Up Lanka Sri Lanka’s Director Ashila Niroshi, and Elizabeth L. Cline, and were developed with the input of garment workers and unions, as well as labor rights, legal, policy and industry experts around the world. By signing, you are part of the growing movement for a just and resilient fashion industry.
PayUp Fashion stands in solidarity with retail workers and worker rights movements globally, Black Lives Matter and the movement for Black representation and inclusion in fashion. We also stand in solidarity with the broader movement for environmental and climate justice. A majority of garment workers are women of color who earn poverty wages and are on the frontlines of fashion’s environmental impacts. We can no longer wait for environmental, racial, and economic justice for fashion’s most essential workers.