- Human Rights Violations
- Destruction of Local Industries, Economies, & Environments
- Appropriation & Misappropriation of land and culture
Human Rights Violations
Pressure on textile and apparel factories is too high to keep up with Western brands and retailers demands for fast and low cost fashion. However, worker’s rights start before textile and apparel factories’ rights do, and workers’ rights also start long before multinational corporations’ rights do, because workers’ rights are human rights. This demand placed on textile and apparel manufacturers in the global south prioritizes low cost labor and lightning fast production and delivery time. When this is compounded upon high levels of competition and extremely high levels of regional economic distress, manufacturers and factories are pushed by multinational corporations to operate in a manner which strips workers of their true worth and dignity. For multinationals, improving the working conditions of employees located in non-home-nation based suppliers has not worked out. These same human rights violations are notably also occurring within in the retail industry side of the textile and apparel supply chain, in the United States, for the same multinationals. Known (current and recent) workers’ rights violations tied to human rights include (& are not limited to):
Freedom of association is protected internationally by articles 20 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Conventions 87 and 98 of the ILO. It is protected within the USA by the US Bill of Rights, as well as by other regionally drawn up laws. This guarantees individuals the right to join or leave groups of a person’s own choosing, and guarantees groups and individuals the right to take collective action to pursue the interests themselves or of members. Freedom of association also protects workers rights to act together to improve wages and working conditions without union representation.
- 22 Colombian trade unionists murdered in 2012.
In 2012 Miller and McGovern stated on the US- Colombia Labor Action plan that “violence against trade unionists has escalated in the past two years”. The report documents that 22 trade unionists were murdered in 2012, 413 threats were made against trade unionists, and states that as many as 90% of cases addressing violence against trade unionists do not result in convictions. Out of fear of violent retaliation, only 4% of Colombian workers are union members. Colombia’s protection of workers’ freedom of association is improving from the period which the action plan was implemented, but as a nation it is still failing.
- NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) files complaint against Wal-Mart for illegally firing and disciplining nearly 70 over strike.
In January of this year (2014) the NLRB filed a complaint against Wal-Mart for illegally firing and disciplining nearly 70 workers for striking in June of 2013. These documented offenses occurred in 14 states at 34 stores, and were in violation of the National Labor Relations Act which protects private sector employees right to act together to improve wages and working conditions with or without a union. Wal-Mart publicly, on national television and on twitter, broadcast statements threatening retaliation against employees who engaged in protests and strikes. According to former managers, Walmart spent (in just one year) $37,000 per-store on anti-union camera packages and undercover spy vans, $100,000 on a 24/7 anti-union hotline, and $7,000,000 on a rapid response team with a private corporate jet. With this large of an annual investment in the illegal suppression of individuals internationally recognized right to freedom of association, it is no surprise that change is slow to come to the retail giant.
Over the recent thanksgiving (US) holiday Wal-Mart workers across the country participated in more strikes (at over 1600 stores) demanding $15/hour and protesting the illegal and unfair treatment previously described. Many of these peaceful and legal protests were met with police violence and arrests. This continued crackdown on striking Wal-Mart workers is backfiring on the corporation as mounting evidence of this ongoing illegal suppression cannot be hidden from the global community and has been reported on internationally.
Inadequate earnings & inadequate or excessive and/or unpredictable hours negatively impact working families, especially women and people of color. These abuses also affect the overall economy as low-wage workers cannot afford to participate in it.
- Just In Time Scheduling is a socially irresponsible waste reduction strategy
The use of JIT scheduling has been on the rise since its introduction in the 1970’s by Toyota, and it has evolved from that point through six sigma methodology, and morphed into the more readily available lean operations management strategies used broadly today. Toyota’s 5S principles including employee empowerment are absent from the majority of today’s JIT scheduling strategies’ agendas. Under these newer lean strategies workers are viewed as input costs which are targeted for reduction, and dependable schedules are financially viewed as wasteful. The new lean JIT scheduling strategy does not discriminate between waste classifications when seeking to eliminate them, though clearly, viewing workers’ livelihoods as waste, rather than as an essential component of sustainability (fourth of the 4 p’s is prosperity, this includes worker prosperity) is unsustainable, dehumanizing, and inexcusably socially irresponsible.
Unpredictable schedules increase stress and disrupt workers’ family life by making family planning and wages erratic and impossible to depend upon. Workers are expected to work a day shift one day, a night shift the next, or workers are expected to be available seven days a week, though they are not guaranteed or likely to be scheduled during the hours they are expected to be available. Weekly work hours for hourly workers in the USA are reported to vary almost 50 percent from month to month. This variance eliminates the opportunity for upwards mobility which lower income workers once were able to depended upon. Socially responsible organizations who provide structured scheduling have lower turnover and higher productivity, whereas those who implement “waste reducing” JIT scheduling are shown to have increased turnover and decreased work satisfaction and customer loyalty . Depriving workers of stable income through non-stable scheduling practices actively stifles economic growth by restricting income distribution to the bottom wage earning demographic. When workers are reduced to numbers on balance sheets they are stripped of dignity and agency, and they are denied this internationally recognized human right. 
The removal of social protections reduces the quality of workers’ lives
- NRF (National Retail Federation) 2014 lobbying to keep worker pay low and to increase hours required to classify as full time.
NRF’s lobbying in 2014 and in prior years to keep worker pay low is an effort to strip social protections from workers which were designed to promote employment and to protect individual rights. Lobbying by the largest retail association to limit or remove protections for workers has shined a light on member companies’ profit over people (and profit over prosperity) agenda. After many pro-worker organizations have publically called out the organization about this disregard for human rights, their collective stance remains unchanged. Though members of the board have dissented against the collective and stated their support for an increased minimum wage, there has yet to be a cessation of lobbying against it.
This year the NRF also urged Congress to pass the ‘Save American Workers Act’, H.R. 2575, which would change the Affordable Care Act’s definition of full-time employment from 30 hours per week to 40 hours. Through this anti-worker legislation corporations would be able to deny health care coverage to their employees and shift the burden back onto workers and individual taxpayers. These explicit acts of lobbying to remove social protections shows the lack of respect for workers’ rights and human rights which the corporations represented by NRF have. As an entity that is responsible for representing some of the world’s largest multi-national corporations, it is distressing that instead of setting an example they choose to promote such a regressive and unethical agenda.
Right to self-determination – the right to freely determine one’s own political status, and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development (granted under ICESCR-Article 1)
- Wage gap and income inequality between CEO and worker pay denies workers the right to self-determination.
The role that the wage gap plays in denying individuals their right to self-determination is not simple to explain, but the clearest example worldwide of how this plays out is Wal-Mart. On January 30, 2014 Doug McMillon took over as CEO of Wal-Mart, immediately receiving a 167% raise ($25.6million, in addition to a salary of $954,408 and incentive pay of $1 million USD). His appointment and raise was voted on by stockholders of the corporation who have received a total of $12.8 billion in dividends and share repurchases so far during 2014. This year (2014) it has been reported that the average pay of an hourly Wal-Mart cashier in the USA is $8.48/hour, and the average hourly pay of a sales associate is $8.81/hour. Over 50% of Walmart shares are owned by members of the Walton family, the richest family in the USA, they have already taken home over $3.3billion in dividends this year. McMillon’s pay raise was rewarded to him by the Walton’s and other investors who despite being informed choose to ignore workers’ rights and demand continued financial returns be paid to them and denied workers from the publicly traded Walmart Empire. The millions awarded to McMillon, and billions given to the Walton family and shareholders, are arguably wages stolen from their own retail workers domestically and abroad from facilities supplying Walmart with these low cost products.
Wal-Mart violates workers right to freely determine their own political status by using these stolen wages to fund political campaigns which are not selected by workers, and are often not in the workers’ best interests. Walmart spent $7.3 million lobbying in 2013 on many things including; preventing legislation requiring background checks for gun buyers, promoting corporate tax cuts, manipulating foreign trade policy, and keeping workers’ wages low. So far in 2014 Wal-Mart has spent $5,220,000 lobbying for similar purposes. 
- Uzbekistan using forced labor to harvest the cotton fiber.
In Uzbekistan, the state forces farmers to grow enough cotton to meet (commodity trading) production quotas using forced labor including children and adults to harvest the fiber. Eleven workers lost their lives while in forced labor positions picking cotton in 2013 alone.
The government threatened to take away Social Security and pensions from recipients for non-compliance with the state mandated work, they threatened to withhold pay from public sector employees who did not participate, and students were threatened with expulsion from school for not participating in the state run forced labor program. The government does not allow farmers the right to choose which crop they grow, this denies them the opportunity to grow a more profitable crop and/or a food crop. Denying people the right to self-determination in Uzbekistan has created an even bigger issue of hunger and food scarcity as a result of unsustainable private and public economic demands on their cotton industry. 
unsafe work environment
- Sandblasting persists in Chinese manufacturing facilities
Last year (2013), a report by SACOM, ITUC/GUF Hong Kong Liaison Office (IHLO), War on Want and Clean Clothes Campaign  that workers lack necessary health and safety protections, their working conditions are exploitative, and they are not properly informed about the deadly hazards involved in the occupation of sandblasting. In order to produce distressed jeans, sandblasting, hand-sanding, spraying (etc..) are used, these processes create excessive dust containing silica sand, lint/fibers, and other chemical vapors (including those from Potassium permanganate) which are known to damage human health Prolonged inhalation of these toxins can cause severe respiratory diseases and the lung disease silicosis. Because of the social hazards caused by Sandblasting, SACOM and other groups have launched a global campaign to ban the practice, and have urged brands using the practice to respond immediately and improve working conditions.
Near the turn of the century sandblasting was being performed in lesser regulated areas including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, and Syria. In 2005, Turkey was the first country whose garment sector acted to recognize negative health effects caused by sandblasting and begin cracking down on it. Since the move to being a more heavily regulated process production has shifted deeper into unregulated regions in South East Asia and North Africa. One area where sandblasting still persists today is in the Guangdong province of China, this region is responsible for producing nearly half of the world’s blue jeans.
This year (2014), SACOM has thus far reinvestigated two of the factories and found that they both have failed to protect workers’ rights, health, and safety in accordance with Chinese Labor Law and persist to use these hazardous manufacturing techniques. The two factories reportedly supply brands including: American Eagle, Hollister, Levi’s, GAP, Wal-mart and H&M. From these updated findings, SACOM has identified reasons to doubt these brands’ commitment to corporate social responsibility, and is increasing their efforts to raise awareness and promote a ban on sandblasting worldwide. 
Unsafe facilities and machinery
- Baldia textile factory fire claimed 259 lives in September 2012, the deadliest recorded in history.
The Baldia textile factory fire is recorded as the deadliest factory fire in human history. The incident (which occurred in Karachi) resembles the well-known 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in NYC which claimed 146 lives. Unlike the New York fire that led to a huge mobilization of workers resulting in the creation of laws governing working conditions in industrial manufacturing, the public remained largely silent about the tragedy and there were no sweeping reforms. Ali Enterprises’ Baldia textile factory in Karachi remains untouched since the tragedy occurred, the building’s framework still stands and is a daily reminder of the working conditions endured and justice unserved.
What happened: Though regional building code law allows no building in Karachi’s SITE area (where the factory was located) to have over two stories, the factory was four stories high. The owners had added an illegal wooden mezzanine floor to expand which allowed the fire to spread quickly across the width of the building and out from the basement where it began, to the upper floors. Workers in the basement died almost immediately as a result of the factory’s boilers exploding, sending metal parts, scorching water, and flames flying. Those on the upper floors were smothered by smoke and engulfed in flames. All safety equipment, including fire extinguishers and fire alarms were absent from the building, so nobody inside could do anything to save their own lives, those who did not die were left permanently maimed.
“In Karachi, 92 per cent of the factories are unregistered.” said Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Unions Federation. And if factories do get caught for non-registration, they pay a 500 rupee fine and are then allowed to resume business as usual. Accountability was not taken by any of the departments of government (including The Sindh Building Control Authority, The provincial labour department, & EOBI) who have jurisdiction over the buildings’ structure or operations, and responsibility for not enforcing violated codes was denied by all. Among officials there is a tragic unwillingness to enforce the necessary rules and regulations governing working conditions, even so today in the shadow the Baldia incident.
At the time of the Baldia incident, Ali Enterprises had Social Accountability International’s (SAI) SA-8000 certification. But according to the victim’s surviving family members, workers were instructed by bosses to fabricate stories about working conditions whenever foreigners visited the factory. Their job was threatened if they failed to comply with the collaboration. The SAI has since cancelled the certification and suspended further operations by Rina, the subcontracted inspection agency, in Pakistan. Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila (owner of Ali Enterprises) left Karachi immediately, and the brothers have been well protected by others in the business community since the incident. 
- Uzbek cotton fields are manned by forced labor including children.
As discussed earlier, Uzbek cotton fields are manned by forced labor including children. The state forces students age 15 – 18 to work to meet the cotton quota under threat of expulsion if they do not comply. This violates human rights on two levels: first child labor, second the right to self-determination which includes the right to freely pursue an education without persecution. The school administrators are punished or dismissed for not participating in this state sponsored program, and parents are often required to sign agreements that their children will voluntarily work in the cotton fields as a requirement for being allowed to attend school. An option is given that parents can pay a fee to get their children out of the required labor, and children who do not pay or comply are reported to the police. There are additional findings that show children as young as 10 were sent, accompanied by police, to work cotton fields as a requirement of attending school.
A large part of what is enabling these individuals, governments, and businesses to commit human rights abuses is the absence of societally inclusive ethical constraints and inability to successfully regulate. Fines to the multinational businesses who contract factories for work are a slap on the wrist, inhumanely written off as a business expense, likely to already be accounted for as an operating “risk” before they are even incurred. An example of this is Wal-Mart [8.], who immediately terminating contracts with suppliers after Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh, done in an attempt to dismiss their involvement and distance their unquestionable role played in creating the tragedy that happened. Once freed from the obligation of accountability, these companies will quickly move on to find another low cost fast production facility, leaving the workers at their former supplier behind to cope. The lack of loyalty based in exploitive demand economics is yet another social hazard causing economic harm to local industries and regional economies.
Destruction of Local Industries (Economies) & Environments
The most commonly discussed type of social destruction caused by the fast fashion supply chain is of local industries (economies), and environments. This discussion looks different to different people depending on where they stand geographically, politically, socially, and economically. In the USA and other first world nations, many people misplace blame for manufacturing industry and job loss on the workers of the global south.
Outsourcing/offshoring has overstayed its welcome with the global social economy. Multinationals operating on a Low cost and short time competition basis who have shifted facilities to overseas to minimize cost and maximize returns are responsible for removing jobs (and in turn income and financial stability) from workers in their domestic state. As economic conditions worsen for the lower income earning classes of first world nations, these workers in turn buy less as a whole and have less disposable income to spend. Outsourcing based on cost has caused the destruction of local economies and industries within the multinationals own home state, and has failed to develop socially conscious/sustainable/safe industries or economies within the regions where they operate.
Industries: Dumping causing destruction of local industries abroad:
Most donated clothing items in the US and Canada are rejected, many of these end up in the landfill, but a good amount of these rejects are sold to exporters at a per-kg rate and shipped to Africa, Central America, and Asian markets where they are sold bellow market prices. Bulk clothing exports increase a countries export numbers and lessen the trade deficit, the estimated cost for exporting used garments in the US is $1/kg, the low cost is provided by shipping companies desperate to decrease empty miles traveled load costs. In turn, this provides enterprises seeking to reduce environmental waste output with a socially irresponsible reverse logistics option to instead dump rejected goods on lesser developed nations. Acceptance of these dumped goods are often forced upon countries with lesser developed economies, accepted politically to ensure a favorable continued transactional relationship with (more economically developed) donor nations.
Dumping is described in brief by GATT/WTO as “a situation of international price discrimination, where the price of a product when sold in the importing country is less than the price of that product in the market of the exporting country.”  The Anti-Dumping Agreement explicitly defines dumping and sets forth steps and measures to be taken to protect against dumping and export price manipulation, but litigation is costly, time-consuming, and usually not pursued by those most desperately needing the protection.
The export of secondhand clothing from North America and Europe to emerging economies has become a controversial multi-billion dollar industry in recent years, and the influx of cheap clothes is quashing local textile industries in West Africa. Countries like Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia cannot establish, protect, or grow local textile and apparel industries while in direct unrestricted competition with imported cheap secondhand goods. These low cost clothes are very affordable for people to buy, but they take jobs from local industry and remove money from the economy which otherwise would have remained. Localized textile industries have shown to facilitate substantial regional economic growth, and have the potential to lift millions out of poverty.
Environment: Exposure to harmful chemicals that damage the body’s biological systems.
Kanpur is a small city (2.5 million inhabitants) on the banks of the Ganges in India, and is home to more than 300 leather tanneries. Kanpur is facing an ecological and health crisis that developed over recent decades along with the rise of its most successful export, leather. More than 90 percent of products made in Kanpur are destined for Europe and the USA, the city is the country’s leading leather exporter.
The effluent treatment plant in the town receives upwards of 40 million liters per day, but it doesn’t work often enough and is estimated that only 20% of wastewater received from tanneries is properly treated. Untreated effluent escaping the facility is discharged onto agricultural land, it passes through communities, and then enters the Ganges River downstream. Farmers and the community are paying the price with their loss of food and crops, as well as with their health and lives. Many workers and locals suffer from a serious skin condition suspected to result from contact with toxic waste water from local tanneries. In the same community former workers suffer from TB, residents suffer from blindness, GI issues, and children are being born with severe disabilities.
Toxicology Research found that increased exposure to leather dust containing high levels of chromium is responsible for Kanpur’s residents’ significantly higher rates of sickness. Many carcinogens and highly toxic chemicals were found being used and produced in the tanning processes there. When high levels of chromium VI and other toxins accumulate in local soil and water (as is happening in Kanpur), it also accumulates in the food supply.
One of the most significant regulatory divides stopping the pollution lies in the government’s rationalization that increased employment excuses transgressions against environmental health. “The Indian government and the supreme court of India have also looked at the issue of Kanpur tanneries,” he said. “Have they improved in Kanpur? A little bit, in 20 years. Now you have a few big companies that are doing better than they were doing before, but the major problem of tannery pollution comes from small and medium-scale industries.”  These small to medium-scale companies have a lot of political support, but not the financial ability (from private buyers or government) to upgrade industrial equipment crucial to the safe manufacturing processes that would save the health of the local community. For the well-being of the Kanpur’s residents these improvements must be made immediately, or the industry needs to be shut down.
Appropriation & Misappropriation of land and culture
- One last keffiyeh manufacturer remains in Palestine, thanks to settler-colonialism and fast fashion’s appropriation of the culture of resistance.
Colonialism & capitalism contribute to the effacement of a cultures’ art and traditions by a process of running smaller, tradition–oriented industry members out of business. Mass production achieved through higher capacity non-traditional processes increases the supply of lower price directly competitive products. These cheaply made imitations are able to capture a large share of the market through deceptive marketing/selling tactics, or by price cutting which appeals to buyers when there is a lack of public education regarding authentic textile and apparel items. Through these socially irresponsible business tactics fast fashion has been able to take market share away from legitimate smaller businesses globally, and in the case of the Keffiyeh manufacturers of Palestine they were able to nearly destroy an entire industry and the cultural artifact being produced.
The Keffiyeh has come near extinction due to global capitalism. They were popularized by mainstream fashion brands who appropriated the symbol of resistance, then they were produced in large quantities starting in approximately 2001 by Chinese manufacturers at a low cost, and the mostly under-informed and uneducated (on these textiles cultural significance) customer base bought up the imitations seeking a low cost alternative. Settler-colonialism has also played a large role in reducing the number of Kufiyeh manufacturers from 120 in 2000, to only one as of 2010. Israel maintains checkpoints and roadblocks, often preventing Palestinian products from leaving Palestine, or preventing raw materials from reaching territories, forcibly shrinking the Palestinian economy and creating further hindrances to an already devastated industry and country.
The Herbawi Textile Factory was founded in 1961, they used to employ up to 300 people using 15 machines, but they now only operate one machine on a part time basis and the family preforms all the work themselves. It is of the highest importance for those who truly support the Palestinian struggle to demand their Kufiyeh purchase comes from this last manufacturer standing to ensure the continuance of this culturally significant art form. To learn more about the Herbawi Textile Factory or to contact them directly for purchase please visit their website , or purchase securely through this Canadian site [11a].
- Cotton for export grown on Appropriated land in Ethiopia
Governments of developing countries often sell or lease land to foreign companies without consent from surrounding local communities as an attempt to boost agricultural income forcing local farmers off of their property, this is called land grabbing. These local farmers are then turned into laborers on the land which they have lost ownership rights, they suffer from this demotion which steals their dignity and wages. The regime change in 1991 and the subsequent ratification of the Constitution (1995) failed to restore tangible land ownership rights. In the FDRE Constitution, citizens have the right to possess farm land under (Art.40.4). Proclamation no.89/1997], (Art.2.3), Directive (no.3/1995), and (Art.23.2). Contrary to these, proclamation 455/2005 gives the regime authority to confiscate and expropriate land for any purpose that authorities claim are for ‘public purpose and/or investment.’ Under this proclamation farmers are expected to abandon their ancestral land within as little as 30 days (as per Article 4(4) of proclamation 455/2005). Failure to comply permits authorities to use police force to evict farmers from their land.
“In July 2014, violence erupted in Gambela as a result of the government’s policy of settling migrant communities on the traditional lands of the Majang people without their prior consent or knowledge. In reaction to the situation, the Ethiopian Prime Minister and Federal Affairs Minister ordered the military to retaliate by killing Majang civilians. The Majang health clinic was destroyed in a subsequent raid, leaving them without access to basic health services. The offenders of gross human rights abuses against Majang ethnic minority and indigenous peoples have not been arrested.” 
As of 2011, the Ethiopian regime had granted 8420 licenses for commercial farms to foreign investors. Millions of Ethiopians are currently in need of food assistance, but instead of aiding farmers in indigenous communities ability to support their own population, the government of Ethiopia has been selling off 3m hectares of Ethiopia’s most fertile land (from the States of Benishangul, Gambella and Oromia) to some of the world’s most wealthy individuals who grow and export commodity crops for more developed nations. Over the last 20 years that TPLF dominated EPRDF officials have been in power they have been busy building personal for-profit empires. Three quarters of the businesses in Ethiopia are owned by TPLF officials, the majority of whom hold upper government and military ranks. 
The world’s second-largest retailer and largest buyer of organic cotton, H&M, is one of the foreign firms investing heavily in Ethiopia. This September they partnered with the Swedish state investment firm Swedfund, and more recently they paired with the Swedish investment company Kinnevik to invest SEK8.8m (US$1.2m) over three years to drive social change.  Just earlier this year, H&M was accused of using cotton from areas in Ethiopia that are vulnerable to land-grabbing . They claim to make every effort to ensure their cotton does not come from appropriated land, but first off: it is arguable that all foreign investment in land leased or sold by the current government is appropriated land, and second: they have claimed to be unable to provide an absolute guarantee of that it does not.
Since this summer H&M has worked with five Ethiopian suppliers, of which they performed a basic risk assessment and found that land-grabbing did not occur in the regions where they are located. They neglected to push further into the investigation, despite knowing that their suppliers source cotton from farms in multiple regions which could potentially include farms on appropriated land. Through intelligent PR strategy H&M has claimed it is not possible for them to trace any further down their own cotton supply chain, even though there are (from a textile industry perspective) multiple ways available for them to do so. H&M chose not to pursue further research which could be done by sending representatives long-term to investigate, or by directly sourcing from the indigenous farmers of these regions to farm their own land at a fair trade rate providing the necessary education and equipment. They also have the option to invest in technology  which tags and verifies the DNA of cotton in their inventory, this established technique ensures that a manufacturer is using cotton from their farms’ crops and not accepting cotton from unknown sources. DNA sequencing for natural fiber is becoming more readily available to all textile and apparel manufacturers, and is done in order to ensure verified sources. “Industry leaders” like H&M have no excuse not to be utilizing any or all of these discussed methods.
- Native American art including dream catchers and tribal prints being sold by fast fashion brands.
Cultural appropriation means taking intellectual property, expressions and artifacts, or history and ways of knowledge, from a culture that is not one’s own. It inherently involves colonization where a more powerful group takes from a marginalized group. Cultural appropriation is an act of stealing a community’s ability to define their own identity in order to satisfy or justify one’s own needs or wants. Symbols of marginalized cultures have been denied historically, and Native American people have been prohibited from wearing traditional clothing. Now almost anybody can go to a shop and find “tribal” styled clothing for sale. The colonial power structure within our fast fashion loving nation has enabled businesses to take native images (cultural symbols) away from the native people to use for profit and personal gain with no benefit or credit given to those who they belong to. “Tribal” prints and other Native American designs should be viewed as intellectual property of the tribes and communities who invented them, they should have control over their designs and all profit made from use of them.
Just like the keffiyeh discussed earlier, dream-catchers have been commoditized by non-Native Americans and their true meaning has been lost to popular culture. Uneducated or intentionally misled individuals consume inauthentic artifacts for their aesthetic value alone, they are unaware or apathetic about these items cultural significance to the groups who created them. Dream catchers originated from the Anishnaabe (Chippewa) tribe , and there is a specific traditional method to making them. When popular fast fashion brands sell dream-catchers made out of products that are not natural, or not made traditionally as the creation of each dream-catcher entails, they are committing intellectual property theft from Native American Indigenous artists.
The difference between appropriating cultural symbols in fashion and appreciating begins with knowing the story behind each piece. Knowing the artist behind the piece, their tribe and the reason for creating the piece, as well as crediting the marginalized group for the creation of these symbols puts power back in their hands. Buying cultural artifacts from a person or company within the Native community is necessary to economically respect that culture, and benefiting the artist and tribe ensures the continuation of their work. 
References & Further Reading
4a. ILO convention: Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957: 105
4b. ILO convention: Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957: 182
5. Breathless for Blue Jeans: Health Hazards in China’s denim factories [link #] War on Want, (SACOM), IHLO Clean Clothes Campaign, Breathless for Blue Jeans: Health Hazards in China’s Denim Factories. http://sacom.hk/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/WOW-DISTRESSED-PRF6.pdf (40 page pdf)
6. Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour [Statement] Demand American Eagle, Hollister, Levi’s, GAP, Wal-mart, H&M to improve working conditions and stop sandblasting now! Sep 5, 2014 http://sacom.hk/the_human_cost_of_jeans/
7. Danyal Adam Khan, Quiet Burns the Fire, November 2014 http://www.dawn.com/news/1143540/
8. As Firms Line Up on Factories, Wal-Mart Plans Solo Effort http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/business/six-retailers-join-bangladesh-factory-pact.html?_r=0 )
9. World Trade Association, 2014, Technical Information on anti-dumping http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/adp_e/adp_info_e.htm Article VI of GATT 1994
18. Duggan, Leeann (Jun 15, 2014) Cultural Appropriation — Is It Ever Okay? http://www.refinery29.com/cultural-appropriation#page-7
Social Hazards Caused by Overconsumption of Textile and Apparel Products. by Katina Gad is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.