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Brands you didn’t know use Child Labour

Maira Siddiqui

Most of us have come across the term ‘child labour’ at some point. Child labour is the use of children in industry or business, especially when illegal or considered inhumane. Many of us might also be under the impression that child labour only occurs for businesses on the other side of the globe in places like Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. However, the truth is far from this misguided assumption. In fact, child labour is practiced by many famous fashion and clothing brands found right here in Canada, the US, and Europe as well. Shocking, right? Well it’s no surprise that there is a massive amount of work needed to get these brands big across the industry. Take a look at some of the world’s favourite brands and their use of the unjust system of child labour:


The deceptive aspect with child labour is that most companies will use children to labour from overseas in other countries and use the materials and work provided, for their products. This makes it seem like all the child labour is practiced in those countries instead of the companies exploiting them. One such brand that uses this tactic is Nike.

Nike is famous worldwide for its quality sportswear and shoes. Past reports have shown Nike has used this practice dating back to the 90s. US College student Jim Keady delved into Nike’s inhumane production practices in the 90s, and in his film Behind the Swoosh exposed how workers, who were paid $1.25 USD per day, were forced to live in slums near open sewers, and shared toilets and bathwater with multiple families. And in 1996, Life magazine ran a reportage on child labour that included a shocking photo of a 12-year-old Pakistani boy sewing a Nike soccer ball. Sweatshops are commonly used by Nike in foreign countries and labour laws are rarely enforced.


Adidas is another clothing brand deeply indulged in child labour scandals. Customers’ favourite sneakers and sportswear from Adidas are, unfortunately, crafted by exploited children. Evidence was reported in which it was stated that Adidas products were made in two factories using child labour, forced overtime and harassment. Representatives of workers in two Indonesian factories supplying the German company, informed Euro MPs that in the Nikomax Gemilang and Tuntex factories, in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, children as young as 15 were made to work 15-hour days, punished for refusing to do overtime, paid less than $60 a month, penalised for taking leave during medical difficulties, and had illegal deductions taken from wages as punishments for minor misdemeanours.

This is only a small fraction of the children being forced to work for the company in horrible conditions with little to no pay.


H&M is known all over the world for its high quality fashionable clothing sold at more affordable prices. However, it is also quite popular in the child labour club.

According to a recent report, H&M hire children to work in factories from countries such as Myanmar and Burma, where they get paid less than $1.00 USD per day for working 12 hours or more a day. The children’s ages range from 12 to 17 year olds. Children must work these grueling hours to clean sow fabrics.


The Gap is one of the world’s leading brands in hoodies and jeans. Teens and adults can frequently be spotted wearing Gap, due to the quality clothing and prices available.

The Gap is also associated with child labour, however. From unsafe machinery to child labour violations, in the thousands of factories it uses around the world to produce clothing for its retail chains, the Gap has practiced the use of child labour with children as young as thirteen years of age. Although, the company has publicly condemned the behaviour of this unethical act, they have actually been quite active in exploiting it as reports have shown their use of child labour dating back to the 90s.


Popular shoes and accessories brand, Aldo, was also caught in such scandals of child labor. They have also admitted that they select employers from the market, but none of their activities gave a green signal to whatever they had admitted. They have been continuously involved with acts of child slavery in the past few years.

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