On April 24, 2013, a Bangladesh garment factory filled with over-worked sewers collapsed. This collapse killed over 1,100 people, and was the deadliest factory accident to date. The reality of this disaster brought much-needed awareness to the heinous working conditions of garment factory employees across the globe.
The fashion industry has drastically changed over the past 30 years.
Where there used to be only 2 or 4 fashion seasons per year, there are now as many as 52 micro-seasons per year.
As the amount of time a specific trend remains “in style” decreases, the need for larger quantities of clothing increases.
Designers such as H&M, Zara, Forever 21, and Gap are producing more clothing articles than ever before, moving them on and off the shelves in quicker cycles, and dropping their prices. This is all targeted at the consumer with the goal of making them feel wealthy because they can afford these new and trendy pieces.
The Fast Fashion Industry has led to two main problems:
Garment workers (mostly women) are working in inhumane conditions for incredibly low wages.
Extreme pollution to the environment.
Garment factory owners are forced to compete with other factories by producing clothing at the cheapest price possible.
This results in factories paying garment workers less than living wages, forcing them to work up to 14-hour days, all while making as little as $0.21 an hour (Bangladesh). Garment workers often operate in extremely unsafe conditions, and are met with physical and even sexual violence if they ask for fair wages or do not comply with strict guidelines.
“85% of textiles go into our landfills, this 85% adds up to 21 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste per year. This is over 5.2% of all municipal solid waste generated in the U.S”. (Weardonaterecycle.org).
Fast fashion speaks to the harsh reality that members of underdeveloped societies are working hard to feed corporate and consumer greed, while receiving little in return.
But Here's the good news,
We can change that.
ethical. Sustainable. Fair.
These "buzzwords" will be mentioned frequently throughout Style Me Fair, so I want to define what they mean to me personally.
Ethical Fashion, at it's core, is a love for fashion. Ethical Fashion advocates want the people who make our clothes to work in safe conditions, be treated humanely, and be paid equitable wages. Many also factor in Sustainable Fashion, which focuses on the responsibility to care for the earth and environment in which we live. I consider both ethical and sustainable factors when making fashion decisions. This combination is what I consider to be Fair Fashion.
Fair fashion should include:
1. Fair treatment of employees
- This means: safe working conditions, fair wages, and equal opportunity for all.
2. Making conscious efforts to reduce environmental impact
- This includes using fabrics that are grown with limited use of toxic pesticides, and purchasing pieces that will last for a long time so that I contribute to the landfill as little as possible.
- Patagonia's mission statement exemplifies a company with sustainability in mind: “We know that our business activity – from lighting stores to dyeing shirts – creates pollution as a by-product. So we work steadily to reduce those harms. We use recycled polyester in many of our clothes and only organic, rather than pesticide-intensive, cotton.”
Just because these are my standards, doesn’t mean they apply to everyone. For example, many ethical fashion advocates find it important that their clothing be vegan. Personally, this is not a conviction of mine, but I hope that we can all come together to support brands we believe in, even if our standards vary. I will do my best to research each company's practices to the best of my ability.
If you believe I am promoting a brand or product that is unethical in nature (according to my personal standards) please, let me know! I am no expert, and am learning as I go. I hope that every reader feels comfortable enough to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns of any kind.