#PayUp Fashion Signatories
Dollars Unlocked for Factories
The #PayUp campaign formed in March 2020 out of the fashion industry’s catastrophic decision to refuse payment for completed clothing orders heading into the COVID-19 pandemic.
When retail stores were shuttered and fashion sales were in free-fall in March of 2020, dozens of global brands refused to pay for an estimated $40 billion worth of finished goods that garment workers had spent countless hours sewing, according to research by the Worker Rights Consortium and PennState Center for Global Workers’ Rights Director Mark Anner. 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 global 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, American non-profit Remake spearheaded the demand that brands #PayUp the billions they owe, joined forces with CCC and other advocate groups, and a global movement was born.
Strengthened by the power of social media, the #PayUp campaign went viral over the summer of 2020, with citizens all around the world using the #PayUp hashtag and over 270,000 people signing the original #PayUp petition.
As of December of 2020, the #PayUp campaign, using relentless protesting and petitioning, and citizen and worker solidarity, has helped to recoup at least $15 billion (according to WRC/Mark Anner estimates) owed to garment factories worldwide from over a dozen major fashion companies, including Zara, Gap Inc. and Next. Without the help of #PayUp, it’s estimated that millions more workers would have lost their jobs. The campaign ensured that millions of dollars flowed back to garment workers. The campaign’s success is because of everyday citizens around the world who signed a petition, fired off a #PayUp tweet, or protested outside stores in solidarity with garment workers.
Building on this victory, a global movement for reform is born.
Many brands, despite returning to profitability by the fall of 2020, still refused to #PayUp, and factories continued to underpay workers on a massive scale. In the months after the pandemic began, brands began to drastically cut the prices paid to factories, triggering a corresponding increase in hunger and food insecurity and an increase in union-busting and gender-based violence among garment workers. The fight continued for basic human rights and economic justice for garment workers, underscoring the urgent need for systemic reform, assuring a fashion future that centers workers, citizens and our planet.
What’s the solution?
#PayUp was a historic and hugely impactful campaign that brought together unions, citizens and civil society groups around the world who continue to work together to build a fair fashion industry alongside garment workers. The goal of the movement is to increase accountability on brands and propose worker-driven solutions to build a fair fashion industry.
In 2020, Remake founder Ayesha Barenblat and journalist and author Elizabeth L. Cline, issued a manifesto for reform in fashion called the PayUp Fashion 7 Actions. The 7 Actions are co-written with the input of AWAJ Foundation Executive Director Nazma Akter, Stand Up Lanka Sri Lanka Director Ashila Niroshi, and other labor rights, legal, policy and industry experts. Among the demands, the 7 Actions call for binding rather than voluntary agreements to hold brands accountable; legal and policy reform to reign in corporate power and safeguard wages and labor rights; and living wages along the supply chain.
Clean Clothes Campaign, as of 2022, is advancing this work through its PayYourWorkers campaign, which is calling on brands to sign a binding agreement to cover wage theft in apparel factories and campaigns to win wage theft cases in individual factories around the world. Remake is campaigning behind legislation to hold brands accountable, including The FABRIC Act in Congress and California’s Garment Worker Protection Act (which went into effect in 2022) as well as supporting PayYourWorkers and other campaigns.
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
The #PayUp campaign was a global movement that brought together countless citizens, unions and civil society organizations. Some of the key organizers included Remake, Clean Clothes Campaign, Awaj Foundation, Stand Up Lanka, Labour Behind the Label, Union for Concerned Researchers in Fashion, and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, which worked with research from the Workers Rights Consortium and the PennState Center for Global Workers Rights.