Let’s Talk | Ethics and Fashion The Wee Blondie’s views on The True Cost Fashion Industry Documentary
The Wee Blondie’s views on The True Cost Fashion Industry Documentary
The fashion industry is a $3Trillion annual profit sector with many clothes made in developing countries. 1 in 6 people are working in some part of the fashion industry, making it the most labour dependant industry on earth.
Many people who work in the fashion industry have a limited voice in the larger supply chain and may not be able to protest in relation to creating fairer working conditions. This is something I find to be devastatingly inhuman. Even after a garment building collapsing and a fire happening in garment factories in Bangladesh, which killed over 1,000 people in a matter of weeks, many parts of the fashion industry still refuse to talk openly about the conditions in which many of our clothes are made. As I found whilst watching ‘The True Cost’ (A documentary about the fashion industry), many companies will refer you to their Way of Working or Code of Conduct documents, dancing around the question completely. So why do we continue to allow this to happen?
Many people and companies try to justify the conditions by saying the workers choose to work there. These companies and people say that what looks like diabolical work conditions to the ‘rich’ West are actually good working conditions to the people in developing companies and many of the alternative options are worse. They also say that sweatshops are good as it brings physical capital, technology and human capital, which allow the start of better living conditions to a developing country. The documentary suggests that even though people and companies say this it is not true. How can people justify such a tiny wage and shocking conditions when many people in the UK find it appalling to work for minimum wage (£6.50) when working in nice, clean and safe conditions with many benefits offered to then as extras by their employers?
Another issue that was raised in the documentary was the rise of ‘fast fashion’. It used to be that there were two distinct seasons, A/W and S/S, where clothes were launched for them at two different times of the year. Now, with the rise of ‘fast fashion’ there are new clothes released in store weekly, almost creating 52 fashion seasons in a year. This need for ‘fast fashion’ is fuelled by the fashion industry using advertising to create propaganda to make people feel like they need excessive consumption of the industry.
This need for ‘fast fashion’ has lead to Americans wasting $82 of textiles each year, meaning 11 tonnes of textile waste is dumped into landfills from the US each year alone. As many of these textiles are non-degradable, meaning that these textiles lie in the landfills for up to at least 200 years whilst releasing harmful gases into the air. This makes the fashion industry the number 2 cause of pollution in the world, only falling behind the oil industry.
Whilst many people choose to donate their old clothes to charity instead of binning them, the documentary revealed that only 10% of the clothes we give to charity are actually sold. Many of the clothes are sent to a developing country for them to wear, which is great, however it is causing local textile companies to close down meaning that in these countries there is a rise in sweatshops and lowed paid garment factories.
The documentary highlights the shocking figures and facts of production side of the fashion industry. Though many designers and fashion houses are choosing to use more organic products and offer better working conditions for their workers, it is still a huge minority compared to the number of companies using cheap garment factories in developing countries.
In order for the fashion industry to change designers, fashion houses and clothing companies need to challenge the norm and try to find a way to make their clothes in a more ethical way that benefits everyone involved, though they need the help of the customer to buy into the idea. The focus needs to be less of profit and more on the true cost of the fashion industry.
Are you ready to buy into the idea and challenge the fashion industry for fair and safe working conditions for everyone?