The fashion industry is one that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Needless to say, billions of dollars of manufacturing orders have had to be cancelled all over the world. The apparel industry is estimated to employ approximately 60 millions works and it is important to understand the risk that these workers face… 


We are aware that most industry leaders and large fashion business’s manufacture their products abroad due to cheap production costs in order to meet demand, so that they can remain competitive. COVID-19 has had an impact on global supply chains in regions including China, Europe and the US. 

Brands and retailers have had to cancel orders from their suppliers due to the government imposing restrictions on travel and gatherings. Businesses are no longer being able manufacture their clothes abroad as easily as they once could. Therefore, this has resulted in many factories having to put production on hold. This means that while many brands and retailers are having to close shops as a result, workers at the other end of the supply chain face significant risks.


The COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in many cancellation of orders, which means that factories are having to suspend production. A knock-on effect of this is that workers are potentially at risk of being fired or suspended. Those who are at risk of losing their job could mean that they could face being left unemployed with no pay to support themselves or their families. The countries that brands typically chose to manufacture their clothes in are LEDC’s which means that it is likely that their economy was already weak before the pandemic hit. 

However, those who are still working may be operating in environments that have no social distancing rules. Therefore, this means that there are no appropriate health and safety measures in place. Workers are at risk of catching the virus. As mentioned, the economies of LEDC’s are already weak which means that these workers may not have health insurance and the quality of medical care may be poor. The government is working to implement schemes and put in place strategies to help support these workers, but it is not consistent which means that these workers are at risk every-day. 


Action can be taken by brands and suppliers  in order to support these works and mitigate the risks that they face. Some of what can be done is outlined below:

  • Maintain orders with suppliers: H&M, Target and M&S are amongst some of the brands that have agreed to maintain existing orders with their suppliers. This means that they have not cancelled any existing orders, but instead they have paid for good that have been produced and/or that are currently being produced by their factories.
  • Work with suppliers to ensure that factories are meeting COVID-19 guidelines in order to prevent the infection being spread.
  • Ensure that the appropriate action is put in place to support workers who are unwell, by providing sick pay to help support them whilst they are unable to work.