Fashion Nova factory staff are reportedly being paid less than minimum wage

Following accusations it was ripping off Versace garments, the Los Angeles-based fast fashion label is now facing claims factory staff making its products are being underpaid

Since launching back in 2006, Fashion Nova has become of the most Googled fashion brands around today, having found success in selling garments born of the  era of the Instagram influencer. This last year, however, has seen the LA-based fast fashion giant’s practices called into question, as it faced a series of controversies regarding originality. In November, Versace revealed it was suing the brand for alleged copyright infringement, after it released a dress questionably similar to its iconic 2002 jungle print dress, as worn by JLo.

Often releasing similar looks to ones worn by Kim Kardashian within hours of her being seen wearing them, the hyper-speed of Fashion Nova’s business model has also raised a few eyebrows. Now, they are set to raise further, as an article by the New York Times uncovers the alleged mistreatment of the workers in factories contracted by the brand, also based in Los Angeles. 

According to the piece, the factories that produce the label’s clothes are paying workers under the US federal minimum wage, refusing to pay overtime, and failing to provide them with suitable working conditions and environments. 

Mercedes Cortes, who worked at LA’s Coco Love factory told The New York Times that her average hourly salary of $4.66 was based off each individual thing she would sew – “4 cents to sew on each sleeve, 5 cents for each of the side seams, 8 cents for the seam on the neckline”. Cortes then went on to describe the offices, stating “There were cockroaches. There were rats, the conditions weren’t good.”

These claims of malpractice are the latest in an ongoing crisis regarding the treatment of factory workers. In the last few months alone, female factory workers in Lesotho claimed they were being forced into sexual activity by their managers and other employees, while those employed to make Lululemon garments in Bangladesh came forward to report themselves as victims of verbal and physical abuse.  

Fashion Nova has tweeted that the statements are “categorically false”, before going on to explain that the company has “written agreements with all of our more than 700 vendors in which they commit to pay their employees and sub-contractors in strict alignment with California law.”

The fashion industry is slowly seeing a progression to an overall more ethical approach, with many designers opting to take a more sustainable route in terms of production. Last season luxury brands Burberry and Gucci both staged carbon-neutral shows. With the end of the decade rapidly approaching, if there’s anything the industry can learn from Rana Plaza, one the most devastating tragedies from the past ten years, is that it’s long past time to turn the lens on the treatment of those who create the garments to ensure they are treated fairly and paid properly too.