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I have previously written about ethical fashion and the truth about fast fashion and can now happily say that I haven’t purchased anything from a fast fashion brand in over a year. We have to realize that anything that is fast and makes a lot of money is probably problematic with regards to human rights, animal rights, and the environment.
When we buy clothes of lower quality that have to be replaced after a few months who is benefitting from us? Clearly, buying cheap, low-quality clothes that have to be replaced in the same year is a sure way to make the owners of the companies that produce them rich. Amancio Ortega, the owner of Inditex which owns Zara, is one of the richest people in the world, but the workers in the factories that make Zara's clothes barely make enough money to live.
Fast fashion companies produce clothes of low quality under unethical circumstances, pay workers next to nothing, and destroy the environment, only to have us fall in love with the items and then disappointedly throw them out after a few wears because they are falling apart. But the fast fashion industry has found a way to console (rather, trick) us: By the time we need to throw out that new dress there’s already another one that we “must” buy. And so we end up in a cycle of buying and discarding clothes. The destructive over-consumption benefits none other than the big brands who have you believe that you must own more to be more, that you have to follow every trend, and that you cannot look good if you don’t own a cheap knockoff dress similar to the one so-and-so won at the last red carpet event.
The rights of workers in all of this don’t matter, they are not visible to us, they may die in catastrophes like the Rana Plaza collapse, and we will pretend to care for some days or even weeks. But do we care enough to stop paying companies to exploit people, animals, and the environment? Or does our criticism end when it’s time to vote with our money?
While we’re torn between actually caring and wanting that cute cheap dress, fast fashion brands need to come up with ways to convince us that they’re not all that bad. So they hire marketing experts to persuade us that they pay their workers a fair wage, that they have started using non-toxic materials - that they care. They are afraid of losing our money so they make sure that we continue to give it to them, and we believe their lies because it’s more convenient, because it’s cheap. Zara claim they don’t produce their clothes in Asia, but, actually, half of their items are manufactured in Asia, despite what their marketing campaigns would have you believe. But what do we expect from a company that has stolen artists' work and overcharged its own customers?
Remember: There are other options out there. They may cost more, but if you buy fewer items that last longer you will not actually spend more money.
Please watch “The True Cost” to find out more about the fast fashion industry’s crimes.
Half Bulgarian Turk, half German living life as an expat in Greece.