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Fast Fashion- Equalizer or Lawful Evil?

What  is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is the type of clothing you see at H&M, Forever 21, Old Navy, Zara,  Urban Outfitters where the clothing has a high turnover and isn’t made with heavy or what would normally be considered high quality fabrics. Many of us utilize these stores myself included (I swear by Old Navy’s plus size Rockstar jeans) but what is the true cost of our convenience and cost savings? You might be surprised.

It takes an inordinate amount of water and other resources to create just one t-shirt. 2,700 liters of water to be exact and 3 out of four garments will end up in landfills or be incinerated. (  Fast fashion factories are often located in countries with lax labor laws and many large names like Childrens Place and Walmart as well as others have been linked to sweatshops in third world countries that often allow child labor or even forced labor. 

This topic came to the forefront of the American consumer mind in 2013 when the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed due to structural issues and killed 1,138 people. The part of Dhaka (the city the Rana Plaza is located in) that houses the factories is very urban and many factories are in taller buildings rather than low profile industrial ones are in the United States or other developed areas. Fire, structural and environmental hazards are all concerns for these factories. The five year Alliance and Accord set up after the Rana disaster is set to take effect by the end of summer. This is where many large retailers gave fast fashion factories five years to implement safety regulations and fixes to maintain their contracts with U.S. and other Western based brands.

The Atlantic stated in a 2017 article that these regulations were unlikely going to be able to be met by the factories in Dhaka and that they may face losing contracts with manufacturers. On the surface this might not seem like a problem, you might think that if the factories can’t comply and meet standards set by their contractors then they should lose business. The issue is that if you pull all the flowers out of your garden, you’re unlikely to keep a garden very long. 

If these major brands truly care about worker safety then surely they’re willing to pay the extra costs associated with ensuring such safety right? They could even offer small loans to these companies to ensure compliance, so they can preserve their relationships with their factories and work towards a better environment. This isn’t something we’ve heard too much about however, it makes you think if those major brands really do care about worker safety?

People love a bargain, we love being able to have choices in our wardrobe, to shop “for fun” I’m completely guilty as charged. I have wayyy too many clothes. I think of fashion as expression ,as art and though I do strive to create a long lasting capsule wardrobe, I inevitably end up browsing clothing sites “just to look”. Fast fashion also can be an equalizer for both consumers and those making the garments. A woman in Indiana who can’t afford a tailored suit, can afford a blazer from Old Navy or Forever 21 to go to the new job interview. The women who make these items are earning their own money and may be able to uplift their families and communities with their wages. (You know the same way American women do.)  

So is fast fashion evil? Clothing companies are looking to make a profit, which in itself is not evil, but when you disregard the negative externalities you’re imposing on people who may not have any other options that makes you at least lawful evil. (Please google this if you do not get reference, my nerd flag is flying here) We as consumers need to consciously think about what we are buying and why, do you REALLY need another graphic t-shirt? I’m not saying you should stop shopping at any of these places, I just want you to be aware what the costs of those goods actually is. 

As for me, I’m going to make a concerted effort to invest in my clothing and develop “style” a sense of self rather than just keeping up with the latest trends. It might be time to level up your wardrobe and your buying habits by making conscious choices instead of reactionary purchases. (I know it’s hard, I have sooo many Old Navy shirts)

Thank you so much for reading, don’t forget to come back on Sunday Morning for our Weekly Style Guide! This week in the spirt of conscious buying, I shop my closet and create three looks one for work, one for brunch and a date night look, all without buying a single item! See what I come up with.

 What I look like after five hours of writing two blogs, one photo shoot and before I take off my make up, I also need to brush my teeth, yikes, I’m a mess.


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