I love fashion. It allows people to express themselves and experiment with different styles. But that doesn’t mean that it should come at anyone else’s cost. The more research that I do about the fashion industry, the more I realize that fast fashion and slavery go hand-in hand. Doing Dressember this year actually taught me that the two are actually pretty close friends. Don’t worry, because there is a way that you can stop it.
When people think of slavery, they think of people owning another person to do some sort of manual labor. That, my friends, is what fast fashion is. People are forced into terrible conditions, low pay, and awful hours, because the fast fashion industry has made it the norm in their area. They get paid pennies on the dollar so that you can have that shirt for $1.80 or $5.90. As rough as this might be to hear, you buying the item for that cheap is what keeps the cycle going. Yes, it’s great that you can get fast fashion items at an extremely low cost. Wouldn’t you feel better paying a little more to know that no one suffered, though?
There are plenty of reasons floating around to not buy fast fashion. Cheap, disposable fabrics and the damage on the environment is just the start. Fast fashion is slavery. It is saying that having a trendy outfit is more important than someone else’s life. I don’t know about you, but I’m not okay with that.
According to the Global Slavery Index, “the fashion industry is identified as one of five key industries contributing to the prevalence of modern slavery.”
Now, this doesn’t just mean fast fashion. There are plenty of high-end brands that are perpetuating the cycle as well, but I want to focus on fast fashion. Because while you might need to save up for a while to buy that designer brand, you likely see fast fashion brands every single day. That makes it easy to grab for convenience and not think about the harm you might be doing.
It’s a bigger problem than you might think. To put it in perspective..
“$127.7 billion worth of garments at risk of including modern slavery in their supply chain are exported annually,” according to the Global Slavery Index.
What can you do to stop it? Simply put, buy better clothes. Those three words are loaded, I know. Asking questions are the perfect way to start your journey to end fast fashion habits. You control fast fashion with your dollars. Every single dollar you spend is a vote. Ask the brands hard questions, like “who made my clothes?” Let brands know that you love their items, but you want to know more.
If you’re looking to go the extra distance, start buying clothes secondhand. Places like Poshmark and thrift stores are a great way to find great pieces for less. Bonus points that you don’t have to feel bad about buying them. You’re saving it from the landfill and breaking the cycle at the same time.
Dressember teaches me something new every day. Some days it’s how to layer, and other days it’s about just how real slavery currently is today. This month is changing me, and I hope this little tidbit of knowledge can change you for the better, too.