Sartorial Sustainability Sunday: The True Cost

last week…

A shift happened in apparel production that only looks after big business interest. One of the first documentaries exploring the epidemic of fast fashion following the tragedy at Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh, The True Cost explores this shift and opens the eyes of the viewer to the implications of the profits of the corporations and the western culture’s need for more.

Fast fashion is a new concept and one that has changed the clothing industry. Instead of two seasons a year, we have 52 seasons a year. How does a company manage producing that mass? One in six people in the world works in the global apparel industry and the majority are factory workers. The average wage for a current employee of a Dhaka factory is less than three dollars a day and that is how fast fashion can afford to be made lightning fast and and so cheaply.

As recently as the 1960s, America made 90 percent of our clothes. As of 2015, it was three percent. Why is the 97 percent outsourced? Corporations can get away with cutting corners and disregarding safety measures when they outsource to third world nations. (Where is OSHA when you need them?) Cutting corners and disregarding safety measures became de rigueur, at least until it was illuminated by the tragedy at Dhaka, Bangladesh. The death toll of the factory collapse was over one thousand. What is most sickening is that the building was called out as structurally unsafe before the collapse.

An interview with an industry expert gave me food for thought in regards to consumption. The next time you find yourself “needing” something, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will your needs feel satisfied by consumption?
  • Is the way to solve the problems in your life through consumption?

Then the documentary started to hit especially close to home and brought be back to my Q and A with Lindsey. Clips from YouTube channels of Bethany Mota, Meaghan Dowling, and Sadie XO each featured clothing hauls, specifically fast fashion brands H&M and Forever21. This part was cringeworthy, particularly the part when Sadie XO commented that she did not even know if she liked a sweater she bought, let alone if she was ever going to wear it.

Everyday I see outrage on my Twitter feed about the state of human’s rights in the United States. Can those who are as outraged by the lack of women’s and minorities’ rights in the states (and I am with you), be as indignant for those in third world countries who subject themselves to brutal conditions so that us westerners can shop an eight dollar top?

 

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