Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for him/herself and his/her family an existence worthy of human dignity”. Correspondingly, a Living Wage is defined as ‘remuneration sufficient to support the basic needs of a family and a decent life’.
Despite the fact that a Living Wage as a Human Right has been recognised in international law for over a century, the fashion industry, specifically the fast fashion sector, remains synonymous with poverty wages. Retailers and brands keenly promote the fact that they pay minimum wage, but what they neglect to mention is that, for most of the 75 million garment workers across their global supply chains, the minimum wage does not come close to the living wage on any scale.
As consumers continue to expect more garments, more often, at increasingly cheap prices, fashion companies continue to choose labour costs as the something that’s ‘gotta give’. As purchasers we can bring an end to this race to the bottom by persistently holding brands accountable, and by consciously buying from companies that do not price their labour at less than that of a decent life.
There is no universal numerical figure that can be pinpointed as THE amount that, globally, constitutes a living wage. The cost of living varies across countries, let alone across regions and continents, and thus so does the living wage. For example, the Real Living Wage across the whole of the UK is £8.45/hr, but in London it is £9.75/hr.