As bizarre as it may sound, it is true prisoners make many of your favorite outfits. Fashion houses from all across the world make use of prison labor for mass production of their garments. A recent incident of using prison labor could be Carcel’s new line of silk garments produced entirely from women’s jails in Thailand. Though this news raised extreme criticism, there were also views justifying this with the long history of fashion and prison.
Dating back to the 18th century most manufacturing programs were run by government bodies to produce a mass volume of low-value items. This helped in cutting the cost of production. In the 1990s, this practice of using prison labor was picked by private companies including retail leaders like Victoria’s Secret.
Many corporations still use prison labour for a production like Prison Blues in the United States, Stripes Clothing in the Netherlands and Pietà in Peru or the popular chain Target. These brands claim to create a profitable and sustainable business model while providing jobs opportunities for prisoners. The market now is not only limited to fashion and other businesses like Telecom, Computers, sports gear etc are also making the most of prison labour. Some of the notable brands are Dell, Starbucks, Walmart, McDonald’s, Revlon, Intel and Motorola.
Though prison labour is considered unethical due to the limited compensations and extensive workload on prisoners. The exploitation of prison labour is rather common as they don’t have the same rights as regular workers. While the supporters believe that ethics has no role to play in prison labour as it is a voluntary activity.
Future of Prison Labour
There are mixed opinions about prison labour being used for large scale production, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is and has been a large contributor to production. The possibility of this trend vanishing shortly is also low, due to increased acceptability in many countries. Involvement of big corporate houses also contributes to the same. Therefore, we don’t see a possibility of prison labour vanishing and hence you will only have to make peace with prisoners being your stylists.