Behind the Fashion

The fashion world decks itself in glitz and glamour, but remains silent on the innumerable stories of the people who work in the textile industry or related sectors. Here, six Cambodians tell their stories of difficult work conditions, struggles, and resistance.

Kunthear Mov

Portrait of Kunthear Mov: “I hope I can be a role model.”

Kunthear Mov is co-founder of the Cambodian slow fashion label Dorsu. In deciding to start her own business, she turned her back on work in a textiles factory.

Mov founded Dorsu in 2008 together with a friend. She wanted to set a good example and show what humane working conditions in the fashion industry could look like. From design to production, in her business all steps in the work process are coordinated and carried out under one roof. The materials are offcuts from the mass production of the major Cambodian textile factories. Workers receive a monthly wage above the legally mandated minimum and have the opportunity to engage in further training.

With her business model, Kunthear Mov would like to encourage consumers to change their thinking. In 2019 she was recognized for her work by the Women of the Future Awards South East Asia.

“I would simply like a chance to build something that is good for everybody—for our community.”

The fast fashion industry is booming:

The fast fashion industry is booming. Major fashion companies like H&M, Zara, and Primark offer low-cost collections that operate on a weekly cycle. The costs are borne by workers in the textile factories. They work at piece rates, producing clothing under inhumane conditions. Overtime and a lack of protection in case of ill-health are commonplace. When the end of the month comes, their wages are insufficient to cover even the most basic of needs. If they are unable to work due to sickness, they stand to have their wages cut even further.


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