Anti-sweatshop movements have been around since as early as the 19th century. Sweatshops typically employ the most vulnerable of the population to work inhumane hours for very low wages in very poor conditions. Despite the global call for ethical means of manufacture, a number of sweatshops still exist in underdeveloped regions like Bangladesh and India. Most recently, the Guardian reported that children escaping the civil war in Syria have been recruited to sew clothes and shoes for up to 12 hours a day, six days a week in a Turkish sweatshop. To draw attention to the prevalence of sweatshops in the modern day fashion manufacturing process, Schone Kleren Campagne, the Dutch arm of the Clean Clothes Campaign have established a sweatshop in the heart of Amsterdam.
Called The Mad Rush, the concept store is attractive from the outside, drawing in customers using a window display of trendy, fashionable items. But, when a customer asks to try something on, they’re led through a section that looks like a sweatshop. Unsuspecting shoppers are greeted by the loud rattling of machines in a stuffy room packed with too many people working its sewing machines. It’s just a small taste of the deplorable conditions that are a reality for predominately women and children around the world.
Customers are then led to an area that serves as an education hub. Here, people learn about how they can make a difference as an individual. Speaking to FashionUnited, the campaign’s coordinator Tara Scally had this to say:
“Fashion is moving at an increasingly faster pace, which is leading to increasing production rates. We wanted to confront Dutch consumers with the consequences of this.”
The Clean Clothing Campaign joined forces with Mama Cash to make the campaign a reality. Mama Cash is an international funder for social justice that throws its weight behind women’s issues.
The Mad Rush will run until 15 May and is situated in the busy shopping street of Kalverstraat in Amsterdam.