Anti-Leather and Anti-Fur Designer in Low-Wage Scandal

ASIAN factory workers who make Stella McCartney designs are paid poverty wages, it has emerged. The vegetarian anti-fur and anti-leather designer has now been accused of being kinder to animals than the people who make some of her expensive designs.

Her luxury sportswear line with Adidas is made in Indonesia by workers who earn on average £188 a month, the company has confirmed.

It is the equivalent of just 98p an hour if they work the South East Asian country’s typical 48-hour factory week. And it is far below the pay level recommended by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, which has recommended that the living wage for Indonesia should be 5.886million rupiah (£312) per month.

McCartney, 46, who refuses to use leather and fur in her clothes has campaigned against cheap labor. She outlines her “Respect for People” mission statement on her website, claiming that “everybody should earn a fair wage.”

But anti-poverty campaigners have accused her of double standards and not practicing what her PR campaigns preach.

Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want, a charity working with garment workers internationally, said: “Ms McCartney’s customers will be shocked to learn she is paying poverty wages and racking up huge profits.”

“Her brand income went up 42 per cent to £7million this year, after just a 30 per cent increase in sales. That points to rising exploitation. The garment industry is only able to rack up huge profits because its business model is built on paying poverty wages – mainly to women working in the global South.”

“Even “ethical” high street brands, such as Stella McCartney, refuse to practice what they preach. PR exercises, voluntary codes and warm words do little to fix the problem.”

And Dominique Muller, policy director of anti-sweatshop charity Labor Behind The Label, said Miss McCartney should be aware that workers making her sportswear were being paid such a low wage.

She said: “I think she is aware of the practices of the majority of the fashion industry, low-cost fashion and how damaging it can be, so I think it’s important that she fulfils her promises to her customers and to her brand by making sure she follows the full supply chain of any brand collaboration.”

Jay Kerr, from No Sweat, a campaign group which calls for the protection of sweatshop laborers, said companies like Adidas that spend a fortune on celebrity endorsements had “an ethical obligation” to ensure the people making their clothes were paid a Living Wage.”

He said: “Adidas made operating profits of €2.1billion [£1.87billion] last year. It can afford decent pay. Workers like these in Indonesia make these profits for the sportswear giants.”

McCartney received an OBE for her services to fashion in 2013 and is now worth an estimated £57million.

The daughter of Sir Paul McCartney is one of the few fashion designers never to use leather or fur. The mother-of-four opened an “ecofriendly” store in central London in June complete with rocks filled with dirty puddles and moss.

The store has a section dedicated to Miss McCartney’s pricey sportswear, including £60 tank tops, £55 shorts, £120 leggings and jackets costing £140.

A spokesman for Miss McCartney declined to comment, calling the issue claiming it is an “Adidas supply chain matter” and directed comment instead to Adidas.

A spokesman for Adidas Sport said the company did not determine the wages suppliers paid their employees, but claimed the average monthly take-home wage in Indonesia was “well above” the current minimum wage.

He said: “The current average take home pay for workers employed at Adidas’ contract suppliers in Indonesia currently is Rp 3,558,769 [£188] per month, plus Rp 431,548 [£23] in non-wage benefits (such as social insurance).

“On a Purchasing Parity basis this is the equivalent of £572.52 in monthly income in the UK, plus benefits. “Mandated minimum wages in Indonesia vary across the country, but on average are Rp 2,264,676 [£120] per month. Adidas requires employers to pay at least the remuneration required by law or negotiated in a collective bargaining process.”

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