Tirupur: An Introduction to the Exploitative Textile City
Fashion has existed for millennia, yet it was not until the Industrial Revolution that it became the global economic and exploitive force it is today (1). Tycoons, now corporations, fashioned business models which decisively changed the lives of billions, thereby achieving profit at any cost. These business practices continue as companies callously ship jobs overseas, thus oppressing and capitalizing on already vulnerable populations. The aim of Justice in Fashion’s multi-part blog series is to raise awareness for those trapped within these corporate, social, and political paradigms, and will primarily focus on one city which has been systematically afflicted by multi-national corporations (MNC’s).
Tirupur, nicknamed the “Knit Wear Capital of India”, “Textile City”, “Dollar City”, “Cotton City”, and “Knit City” (2), has experienced years of economic production, yet this has often come at the cost of infringement upon human rights (3). Issues of exploitation are ongoing, with stories continuously being exposed of the horrors of the textile and manufacturing industry. This blog series will endeavour to raise awareness of ongoing abuse in hopes to empower these oppressed individuals, with our primary focus being on Tirupur.
These articles also hope to give voice to those weighted down by this oppressive business model, and will elucidate on the issues of:
• issues of forced labour and modern-day slavery
• child labour, its prevalence and the Sumangali scheme (a system which cruelly exploits young, unmarried girls)
• sexual and gender-based violence in the workplace
• wage theft- for example due to last minute speed-ups/order cancellation by brands
• environmental impact of the industry
• federal and international legislation- including the enforcement or lack of enforcement of these law
• impact of COVID-19- resulting in workers being forced to work in unsafe conditions as well as further wage theft
• exploitation undertaken by MNC’s- due to the (intentional or unintentional) ignorance of the affairs in their supply chains.
As a final point, these blogs also continue JIF’s hope to identify and share common industry challenges so as to address the many challenges during and post-COVID-19 pandemic (4).
(These articles are also published as part of a blog series for "Justice in Fashion", which is a non-governmental organization aiming to reduce exploitation and imbalance in the fashion industry. Please go and support them: https://www.justiceinfashion.org/ )
1. Duarte, A.Y.S., Sanches, R.A. and Dedini, F.G. (2018). Assessment and technological forecasting in the textile industry: From first industrial revolution to the Industry 4.0. Strategic Design Research Journal, 11(3), pp.193–202.
2. Wikipedia. (2021). Tiruppur. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiruppur [Accessed 29 Jun. 2021].
3. Crane, A, Soundararajan, V, Bloomfield, MJ, Spence, L & LeBaron, G 2019, Decent Work and Economic Growth in the South Indian Garment Industry. University of Bath. <https://www.bath.ac.uk/publications/decent-work-and-economic-growth-in-the-south-india-garment-industry/attachments/decent-work-and-economic-growth-in-the-south-india-garment-industry.pdf>
4. Justice in Fashion. (2021). Home. [online] Available at: https://www.justiceinfashion.org/.