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This nonprofit keeps the fashion industry accountable to its workers

Remake founder Ayesha Barenblat uses social media to make sure garment workers get paid.

This nonprofit keeps the fashion industry accountable to its workers

In March 2020, models Arizona Muse and Amber Valletta joined hundreds of activists and garment workers who posted selfies on Instagram holding signs that read “Pay Up.” Their goal was to name the dozens of fashion brands and retailers—from Kering to Everlane to Walmart—that had canceled orders from overseas factories when COVID-19 hit and sales plummeted. These companies were effectively depriving wages from workers who had manufactured those garments but don’t get paid until an order is delivered.

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The “Pay Up” campaign was led by Remake, a non-profit focused on eradicating the fashion industry’s harmful labor and environmental practices that was founded in 2015 by labor rights advocate Ayesha Barenblat. Pay Up “was a breakthrough moment for our advocacy,” Barenblat says, and it yielded results: 20 brands, including Nike, Levi’s, and Zara, reversed course and paid the factories. Ultimately, an estimated $22 billion of the $40 billion in lost wages was recovered. Recently, Remake launched a campaign inviting consumers to pledge not to buy new clothes for 90 days, to curb carbon usage and waste. Thousands have signed up.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a Senior staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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