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Here’s What You Need to Know About the #PayUp Hashtag Campaign Trending on Instagram

Here’s What You Need to Know About the #PayUp Hashtag Campaign Trending on Instagram

The fast fashion industry that we are so  reliant upon is a result of economic manipulation and a legacy of colonialism. For many years, women in Bangladesh have been working in unsafe and dangerous conditions with little to no pay. They have sacrificed their lives simply for our summer trends and fast fashion. Many have not gotten their salaries for two months. Approximately 4.1 million Bangladeshi garment workers — 80 percent of whom are women — have not been paid, and are being exploited by Western brands such as Fashion Nova, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Target, Primark, Gap, Kohls, and  Free People.  This is not only a financial crisis, but a humanitarian crisis. These brands have  capitalized off of underpaid and underprotected garment workers long enough.

Al Jazeera reported that workers are on the threshold of starvation due to brands withholding payments of already shipped and manufactured products. Factory owners struggle to pay their laborers since cash flow has ceased due to unexpected cancellations. Some owners said that they have reached out to these brands, but have not received any kind of response from them.  Bangladeshi garment workers work 10 – 12 hour shifts daily for the mere payment of $96 USD per month, to produce products which are marked up to $50-$200 in their retail stores. Their extremely low income makes it impossible to accumulate savings; not being paid for over two months has had detrimental effects on their livelihoods pushing them to the brink of starvation and homelessness.

According to The Guardian,  Azmin Nahar, a 26-year-old garment worker and mother of two in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is living on borrowed rice. She hasn’t had the wages to pay for food or rent for more than two months. “They told us that the foreign buyers are cancelling all our orders,” she says. “That’s why there’s no new work. We haven’t had our salaries for two months now. Our house rent is due. We are buying all our groceries on credit but they won’t give us any more food until we pay our bill. So our landlord managed to get a sack of rice for us and we’re surviving on that,” says Nahar.

These fashion brands belong to multi-billionaires who are still making profit and capitalizing on the cheap labor of underprivileged workers in Bangladesh. It is time for them to #PAYUP

This is not only a financial crisis, but a humanitarian crisis.

The Instagram hashtag #PayUp is being used to pressure those brands to pay for whatever they ordered from Bangladeshi factories. So far, sixteen brands have agreed to pay for back orders. H&M, Adidas, and Nike are among brands that have agreed to pay for back orders totaling some $7.5 billion.

As factories reopen, they’re fulfilling those orders. However, brands like Primark, Kohls,  and the Kendall + Kylie fashion line still refuse to pay.  Kohl’s is yet to pay $50 million in cancelled orders in Bangladesh, in addition to the $100 million they are withholding from their other global suppliers. Primark is refusing to pay over $300 million to suppliers only in Bangladesh, according to BGMEA. On April 20, Primark announced a $460 million fund to pay suppliers worldwide, without mentioning what percentage of their dues they agreed to pay and has not made any of those payments yet. 

The Kendall + Kylie clothing line is owned by Global Brands Group, which has also decided not to pay workers in Bangladesh. The Independent reported that the Global Brands Group was cancelling orders and firing workers in Bangladesh and Los Angeles without paying them. The Los Angeles factory firing has so far impacted up to 50,000 women who are also ineligible for government assistance due to their immigration status. Enraged by this, social media users began to call Kylie out. Kylie’s fans commented on her Instagram posts demanding that she pay the factory workers from her own pocket, if necessary. Even though Kylie Jenner was recently stripped of her billionaire title, she is still worth a staggering $900 million and can more than afford to pay workers for the work that they have completed. One fan on Instagram wrote: “How about not exploiting foreign workers and honoring your contracts during a GLOBAL EPIDEMIC?!” 

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/ Remake has always believed in providing a platform to advocate for vulnerable garment makers, who most often are Black and Brown women. ⠀ We launched our #PayUp campaign to hold fashion brands accountable during COVID-19 and to make sure that they pay factories for produced orders — without this payment, many of the women who make our clothes face homelessness and starvation. ⠀ On June 11, we shared with you that Global Brands Group (affiliated to KENDALL + KYLIE on their website up until TODAY), had refused to pay garment workers for orders produced in February + March following a drop in sales caused by the coronavirus pandemic. ⠀ ⠀ One day later, the KENDALL + KYLIE brand Instagram account shared their intent, to “better our industry and better each other” which was ironic given the lack of response or commitment to #PayUp. ⠀ Over the last week, others have amplified Kendall and Kylie’s lack of action (@diet_prada). As many look up to the sisters and brand, we expect for them to lead by example and stand behind their words that they support women. ⠀ Today, we received word from a KENDALL + KYLIE representative that they do not have “current” orders with Global Brands Group and will pursue legal action if we didn’t remove our posts and apologize. ⠀ 🤔 We ask: do KENDALL + KYLIE know who makes their label? And if the women have been paid during the crisis? ⠀ Until we receive clear answers from the team that KENDALL + KYLIE have proof they paid garment makers, we will not back down. ⠀ ⠀ If KENDALL + KYLIE really support women then why threaten legal action against a non-profit for women BY women and disable comments? ⠀ We invite them to dialogue w/ us to learn more about the women who bring their label to life. ⠀ — ⠀ Help us hold them accountable: ⠀ ‼️COMMENT on @kendallandkylie post + EMAIL 📧 asking for answers ⠀ 📝  SIGN our @changedotorg petition (🔗 in bio) to demand brands #PayUP ⠀ ‼️ To KENDALL + KYLIE’s retail partners (@amazon, @amazonfashion, @ashleystewart, @asos, @bloomingdales, @lebscom, @macys, @neimanmarcus, @nordstrom, @revolve, @saks, @shopbop) why do you carry a brand that is not transparent + supportive of women?

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Having the ability to pay and choosing not to is not only unethical, but also remorseless. We cannot let these brands use this pandemic as an excuse to exploit Bangladeshi workers any further, especially when they have the profits to make the payments to the factories. This issue concerns all of us because no matter where you live, if you have shopped in high street stores, you definitely have at least one item of clothing in your wardrobe that says “Made in Bangladesh.” It is inhumane and selfish to turn our backs on the very people that make our clothes.

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Here is how you can help:

  1. Sign this petition on
  2. Donate to “Bangladesh Garment Workers Solidarity” campaign on
  3. Social media activism is powerful. So, make your voice heard. Comment on these brands asking them to #payup Collectively we are influential and strong. This is evident, as 16 brands have decided to payup! Let’s continue holding these brands accountable!
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Co-opting is 🚫ed (+ for now, so are these brands) ⠀ During #COVID we saw brands openly claim to support communities by ‘closing stores’ and ‘making masks’. Yet, a good portion of these brands did NOT provide those same conditions to their frontline garment workers, some going as far to NOT pay them. ⠀ So it probably comes to no surprise by now, that the same billion-dollar brands would make a generic, non-descriptive post about supporting others vaguely, diversity and NOT actively commit to take action. ⠀ Or in the case of brands like, Fashion Nova, make a one-time donation of $1M (v small ad spend for any marketing budget), but have NOT committed to paying Black, Brown, and POC workers. ⠀ There are 20+ fashion brands, like Fashion Nova, who are on our #PayUp petition for not promising to support their minority workers with livable wages. Yet, a majority of these same companies, have posted a black (or branded BLM) square but have failed to put any $ where their PR is. ⠀ We’re asking for your HELP. ⠀ We need @anthropologie, @athleta, @instarcadia, @bananarepublic, @bestselleroneworld, @burton_menswear, @ca, @childrensplace @fashionnova, @forever21, @freepeople, @gap, @jcpenney, @kohls⁣⁣⁣, @levis, @liandfung, @mothercareuk, @oldnavy, @primark,⁣⁣⁣ @rossdressforless, @sears, @topshop, @urbanoutfitters, @walmart to know, this is NOT okay. ⠀ ‼️COMMENT (and comment again) letting them know “co-opting is not cool” and “if they truly support Black and POC voices, they would start by listening to and supporting their garment makers”. ⠀ ⚠️ FYI: Just because a brand isn’t listed does not mean they’re not guilty! ⠀ ❓ASK brands the tough questions. “Did you pay factories for cancelled orders?!” “How are you able to offer 50% off of a garment?” ⠀ — ⠀ For those new to Remake, we’re a non-profit based in the 🇺🇸, with 150k community members across the 🌎 — together making fashion a force for good.⁣ ⁣ Join our movement @ Remake.World ⠀ — ⠀ Learn more about #PayUp, and sign the @changedotorg petition (🔗 in bio) to push companies to pay factories for their orders. 📝 ⠀ With your help 16 brands have promised to pay, and Remake has helped unlock $7.5 billion in unpaid orders globally!

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Long term, we need to look more closely into our shopping habits and seek out sustainable options. Not only that, but in Islam, we are not supposed to be indulgent. Islam forbids extravagance. The Quran and Prophetic tradition warns against consumerism and buying things we don’t actually need. Rather, we are suggested to only buy what we need.

The Holy Qur’an says,

“…and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.” (Surah al-Ar’āf 7:31)

Thus, Islam does not stop us from spending money on people’s genuine needs. It only restricts individuals from wasteful expenses that result in neglecting the rights of the public at large. Excessive spending on things such as fashion apparel is an example of extravagance. As Muslim consumers, we must follow Islamic guidelines while we are consuming. 

Feature image by Abreshmi Anika Chowdhury. She is from Bangladesh, and has always had a great interest towards ensuring there’s more Brown representation in art. Her work is based on Bangladeshi culture to showcase how beautiful her country and its culture is.

Image courtesy of Abreshmi Anika Chowdhury
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