With Covid-19 devastating demand for global fashion brands, millions of jobs in Asia’s apparel factories hang by a thread. That’s why one New Zealand business has taken a different tack to keep its Cambodian staff working and well-cared-for.
To the average consumer, there’s little discernible connection between Te Awamutu and the small Cambodian community of Dey Tmey. But such is the interconnectedness of the world that sustainable fashion business Recreate has its headquarters in the Waikato town and its sewing centre on the fringes of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital and largest city.
It’s not an unusual place for a fashion business to base its production; after all, Cambodia has an apparel industry that employs a million workers and contributes 16% of its GDP. But while some giant corporations are there to take advantage of cheap labour and dubious workers rights, Recreate’s sewing centre exists primarily as a means to provide disadvantaged people with a better life.