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Deutsches Technikmuseum - May

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The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:

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The donation contains six locations:

Exhibit of the Month May 2018

Photo: A white T-shirt with a V-neck is folded up on a blue carrying bag.

A simple T-shirt: Where and under what conditions was it made? © SDTB / Photo: C. Kirchner

T-Shirt, 2018

A basic white T-shirt: although it is an almost indispensible garment in everyone’s wardrobe, it rarely attracts much interest. It is rare to find anyone actually contemplating the origins of his or her clothing even though it is a constant presence in our daily lives.

One well-known Swedish clothing manufacturer sells 16 clothing articles per second company-wide, a rate that amounts to around 500 million a year. On average, every German buys between 40 and 70 garments yearly - one million of which end up in a recycling clothing bin or at the dump.

This insouciance is made especially easy when prices are low. But who are the people behind the mass of clothing that we wear? Where are they produced and under what conditions?

Precarious working and living conditions remain unchanged

Not much has changed in the world of textile workers since Karl Marx wrote "Das Kapital" 150 years ago in which he denounced the precarious situation of the workers at the time.

Pie chart in the form of a T-shirt in which the different cost components for a T-shirt are shown.

The wage share of the total cost of a T-shirt is insignificantly low. © Illustration: Monja Gentschow

Shifts of 12 to 14 hours, a wage too low to live on and few if any rights: unfortunately, those circumstances continue to be the norm. A seamstress in Bangladesh is paid about 0.6 percent of the total price of a T-shirt, which comes out to 18 cents for a 29,- Euro shirt.

As a result of the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, campaigns and organizations were founded in order to bring more transparency into the opaque and exploitative textile supply chains through measures such as, for example, the "Global Organic Textile Standard" (GOTS) certification process.

The T-shirt displayed here was produced by a fair trade company based in Portugal and is GOTS certified.

Pie chart terms:
Was kostet mein T-Shirt? = What is the cost of my T-shirt?
Zwischenhandel = intermediate trade
Marketing und Gewinn der Marke = Marketing and brand profits
Lohnanteil = Wage component
Gewinn Fabrik = Manufacturer profits
Einzelhandel = Retail store
Gesamtpreis = Total price