From factory to the runway, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to delivering high fashion to the public. We practically live on our smartphones, making the concept "shop until you drop" more accurate than ever. Whether it be through social media ads or online shopping, millennials are constantly updating their wardrobes. Those between the ages of 21 and 35 spend around $600 billion every year — and that's one serious price tag.
Zara — a high-end clothing brand from Spain — is worth a massive $11.3 billion, and that number is only continuing to climb. Zara has over 2,200 stores around the world, and it's no surprise that the company lands at the #51 spot on Forbes' World's Most Valuable Brands list. Although this brand is simply booming, there has been some questioning of their business ethics that consumers can't seem to overlook.
The Brand Is Notorious For Treating Employees Horribly
Zara is no stranger to headlines about business malpractice. Inditex — Zara's parent company — has seen its fair share of lawsuits. Over 60 factories in Brazil have been complaining of work accidents and literal slave labor, with some employees claiming to be working 16 hours days without a day off in sight. Zara isn't in the clear just yet, as a new, disturbing scandal has emerged.
Some Of Their Tags Have Been Looking A Little Different
Employees have found a new way to get the consumer's attention. Workers in Istanbul, Turkey have been including handwritten notes with clothing to let people know that they are not being paid for their work. What the note says is enough to get anyone's attention, and this company has some explaining to do.
Turkish factory workers have been cutting right to the chase. One example of a note tucked into a piece of clothing reads, "I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it." These factory workers are putting the heat on Zara to pay up, and they aren't afraid to let the public know what they are paying good money for.
The disgruntled factory workers in Istanbul have a reason to be angry. They are claiming to have been working without pay for at least three months, which is absolutely horrendous. This isn't the first time factory workers in Turkey have made a statement to get their money from Zara.
The factory workers — employed by Bravo Tekstil, one of Zara's factories in Istanbul — began an online petition in 2016, requesting that the company pay them their rightful ages. Despite the widespread attention these factory workers have received, Zara has yet to give them any money. This means 140 workers remain uncompensated since the factory's closure in July of last year.
“We demand what is rightfully ours. We only demand the compensation for our labor. Nothing else, nothing more,” stated Yeliz Kutluer, a mother and former employee of a Bravo Tekstil factory. Zara finally spoke up about these unpaid wages and their explanation promises a resolution for all workers. Only time will tell, though.
Inditex has stated that they are working on a hardship fund to compensate all Bravo Tekstil employees. "This hardship fund would cover unpaid wages, notice indemnity, unused vacation, and severance payments of workers that were employed at the time of the sudden shutdown of their factory in July 2016. We are committed to finding a swift solution for all of those impacted," they wrote in a statement.
Many artists and designers have come forward with allegations of Zara stealing their designs and marketing them for profit. A designer named Tuesday Bassen has come forward with some very convincing evidence against the clothing brand. She took her proof to Instagram, and it's extremely telling.
The designer's Instagram post compares her original designs to those "created" by Zara. There is absolutely no comparison — because they are pretty much identical. "I had my lawyer contact Zara and they literally said I have no base because I’m an indie artist and they’re a major corporation and that not enough people even know about me for it to matter. I plan to further press charges," Bassen stated. Zara dismissed her allegations completely.
Kurtz even created an Instagram page called "Shop Zara's Art Theft," which features designs stolen by Zara from other artists. He links the images to the original artist, and you can't get more clever than this. "Help us hold the company accountable to directly address this glaring intellectual property infringement and fairly compensate these artists," Kurtz stated.
“My father worked so hard. I know well how he worked non-stop, day and night. So I want him to have what he is rightfully owed. Zara, Next, and Mango should hear our voice. That’s all I want," one daughter of a factory worker at Bravo Tekstil stated. This young woman was unable to enroll in her second year of college due to her father's struggle to receive his factory pay. It will be impossible for Zara to sweep this under the rug, especially when it is written right on their tags.
The company Zara may have some killer style, but most consumers want to feel ethically sound when they make a purchase. Stealing from innocent factory workers and indie artists is not the way to build your brand, and it's just plain shameful. Good luck getting out of this one, Zara.