Last week, we discussed the benefits of shopping at consignment stores, one of which is that it is a very “green” was of shopping. This week we will look at fast fashion; what it is, its implications and how to (mostly) avoid it.
Fast fashion is a term that is making its way into our colloquial vocabulary due to disasters like Rana Plaza and Nike’s scandal involving the use of child labour. For those who aren’t aware of the Rana Plaza disaster, it occurred in 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The building was home to a garment factory, with one of their biggest clients being Joe Fresh of Loblaws. The building itself was incredibly unstable, with cracks in the walls and ceilings. It was so unstable that the morning of the disaster, many workers refused to go inside; their jobs were subsequently threatened, and so they had no choice but to go to work that day. Catastrophe followed and the building collapsed, killing thousands.
Unfortunately, what happened at Rana Plaza was not a one-off; garment factory collapses and fires in Bangladesh alone are fairly frequent. You may be asking why this is the case. Many of these factories are old and dilapidated, yet their business is booming; their clients are world leaders in the fashion industry: Zara, H&M, Top Shop, Joe Fresh, and many more. These companies are not aware of what occurs on the production side of things; they are very effective at turning a blind eye. After all, ignorance is bliss.
So, what now?
Many of the companies mentioned above have taken steps to improving their production practices, however it is still a far cry from what it should, and could, be. Needless to say no one is perfect, and certainly not everyone can afford to consistently purchase the finest quality items (which are typically made in better conditions and in developed countries). There are some steps, however, that one can take to minimize engagement in the fast fashion industry:
- Consider buying second-hand items and visiting consignment stores
If you missed our last post, click here to read about what consignment stores have to offer.
- Buy from local designers
Buying local not only eliminates the middle-man (and therefore many of the devastating consequences of fast fashion) but it is also a way to boost the local economy, and to support emerging talent.
- Check labels before you purchase
The most efficient way to know where an item of clothing was made is to check the label. Chances are, if it was made in Bangladesh, Turkey, or Indonesia, the methods of production leave much to be desired.
- Buy fewer, better quality items that will last
There is no doubt that creating a new wardrobe every season can feel like an accomplishment; fashions change so rapidly these days and it is in our nature to want to keep up with that change. However, if you make a conscious decision to stick to buying classic items at better quality, you will not only be creating a wardrobe that you are proud of, but one which will last you years, that you can slowly build upon over time. There is a reason why “classic” items are called classic: they never go out of style.
There is a reason why Zara is the number one fashion brand in the world; their styles are innovative, fresh, and most importantly, affordable. This post is certainly not mean to dictate where you should and should not shop, but rather to serve as a reminder that our clothes come from somewhere, and although ignorance truly is bliss, we must be cognizant, as powerful consumers, where our clothing comes from, and who our purchases are affecting.
If you would like to learn more about fast fashion, there is an incredibly informative movie entitled The True Cost (you can view it online on the website itself or on Netflix).