Having access to the latest catwalk trends at ridiculously low prices is the very core of the problem surrounding the fashion industry. Cheap prices fuel the vicious cycle of wanting to just buy and buy, creating a disposable attitude towards clothing. We are all guilty of purchasing an outfit intended for “one night,” not thinking about the damage these actions have on the environment and the workers involved in the making of these clothes. This is fast fashion, very similar to fast food, it’s cheap, poorly made and devastating for the environment.
You may ask yourself “what’s so bad about fast fashion, It’s good for my pocket!” many of the brands we love, outsource to developing countries that do not have labor laws, allowing companies to exploit their workers. Long hours without breaks at very low wages, child workers and even cases of slave workers have surfaced over the years. (links to cases at the end of blog). Violation of human rights is only the tip of the iceberg surrounding this industry.
Our wardrobe choices also directly harm animals. Luxury items that we see worn on social media by fashion icons have effected some species of animals to the point of placing them on the endangered list. How high of a price are we willing to pay for the instant gratification? The animals are inhumanly killed for their fur and skin. I recently went to Italy for the first time. One of my destinations was Milan. I was ecstatic to be in the fashion capital of the world. Much of this excitement was met with disappointment when I found hats with real animal fur for as low as 5 Euros! That’s not even 6 dollars. That’s less then what we spend at Starbucks in the mornings, and an innocent animal died for that fur ball on top of a hat. Animals face cruel lives as many of them are farmed and are depraved of food leading up to their painful deaths, as many of them are skinned alive. The rabbit hole only goes deeper and deeper as this is not only a problem in the fashion industry, but also in the cosmetics industry.
Humans and animals not quite convincing you to spend a little more? The factories that make those incredible deals on clothes cause great damage to the environment as well. The poor methods used by these factories to discard polluting agents are detrimental to the stability of our environment. Smoke, contaminated water, pesticides and fertilizers are some of these agents. Many companies use the water found in nearby rivers and use it to dye clothes. This water is later thrown back to the rivers, now with chemical dyes polluting and killing the biodiversity that live off of theses fresh bodies of water. The water, the micro-fiber contamination and the over use of our natural resources are just a couple of the issues we face with fast fashion.
You guys! All of this can change by just changing our consumer practices. We hold the power to make a change. We need to realize that fashion is not just about you, our choices have a much further impact then we realize. I am not saying go make your next date night dress off of recycled trash bags, I am saying let’s pay more attention to the brands we buy. Here at lulo, it was a hard decision for us to make to transition to environmentally friendly fabrics. This meant our cost would rise 3x as much but still keep the same price, but we understand that our personal satisfaction is not stronger than then the chain reaction our purchases have on the environment. Do research before buying from a company, are they part of the ethical fashion movement? Visit your local thrift store, my sisters and I catch amazing steals from thrift stores located in areas of higher social status if you know what I mean. Sell and buy clothes on apps such as thredup, poshmark, tradesy just to name a few. Buy a couple of accessories that will transform clothes you already own. The possibilities are endless! All you have to do is try. I have listed just a couple of links to some of the topics discussed on this blog, I encourage you click and get more informed. Remember, “we are only as blind as we want to be”- Maya Angelou
The apparel Industry's Environmental Impact in six Graphics | Planet Aid | August 23, 2017
Fast fashion vs. Ethical Fashion | Planet Aid |
Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you've never heard of | The Guardian| Oct, 2014
Zara Accused Of Alleged ‘Slave Labor’ In Brazil | Forbes | August 17, 2011
Turkey: Sandblasting Jeans for ‘Distressed’ Look Proved Harmful for Textile Workers | The New York Times | October 31, 2011
Factory collapse injures four | The Phnom Perth | October 22, 2014. The floor of a Cambodian garment factory collapsed during regular business operations.
Building Collapse in Bangladesh Leaves Scores Dead | The New York Times | April 24, 2013. This is the sadly famous Rana Plaza tragedy. The final dead count exceeded 1,000 people.
Is That Faux Fur Really Fake? | The Huffington Post | December 8, 2013. Some garments allegedly made of faux fur sold by retailers like Neiman Marcus and Marc Jacobs were found to be made of real animal skin from cats and dogs, among others.
Walmart and Gap Response to Rana Plaza Only Adds Insult to Injury | International Business Times | April 24, 2014
Unfilled Rana Plaza Fund Exposes Fashion’s Lack of Accountability | The Business Of Fashion | August 19, 2014
Benetton admits it made clothes in illegal Bangladesh factory that collapsed killing 900 workers | The Daily Mail | May 9, 2013
3 Die in Cambodia Factory Collapse | The Wall Street Journal | May 16, 2013