Fast Fashion Retailer Zara Under Investigation For Using Slave Labor

Zara is not having a good week. On Tuesday, Brazilian federal prosecutors launched an investigation into the Spanish brand after receiving a tip that its one of its suppliers uses slave labor.

Women’s Wear Daily reports that investigators for the Brazilian government recently raided a number of sweatshops in Sao Paolo State, where they confiscated garments bearing the Zara label. The same investigators are said to have found 16 people working in the shops for the equivalent of $130 to $150 a month. The workers performed 12-hour shifts in “unhygenic working conditions.”

In a press release, a Zara representative called the sweatshops a “nonauthorized” outsourcer, and while it hasn’t ended its relationship with the supplier who runs the shops, it has asked that supplier to bring its employment practices up to code.

“This is a grave infraction of the Inditex code of conduct, which establishes norms and requirements that protects employee rights and must be complied with by all of our suppliers. Upon being made aware of these facts, Inditex required the outsourced supplier to regularize the situation immediately. Brazil’s Labor Ministry is also regularizing their situation.”

Zara is known around the world for bringing the look of the runway to its customers for a fraction of the cost of the real thing — even Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge has been spotted wearing the fast fashion retailer’s clothing. What makes its business a success is the incredible speed and efficiency of its global supply chain, which no doubt relies on inexpensive labor found around the world. So while we’re not surprised that the company got at least some of its clothes from a shady supplier, we are surprised that it’s not shutting down its relationship with this outside company — especially if the supplier has made such “grave infractions” of the company’s code.

We’ll continue to update this story as more information becomes available, but in the meantime, are you less likely to shop at Zara as a result of this news?


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