is fast fashion the new terrorism?
And if that title made you spit up your coffee like a newborn spits up, well, pretty much everything, then consider how I almost wanted to question whether fashion in general is the terrorist culprit period. Fast or not. In honor of my very contemplative photo above, I'll think before writing in stone.
Don't wince or leave me yet. I know you rather refresh your Facebook feed twenty times consecutively than hear anything about anti-shopping, but give me a chance. A little food for thought if you will. Because, dear readers, I have grown quite close to you and your intelligence levels. So if I can't brain dump with you, I've got no one!
The oh so bittersweet relationship between our purchase decisions that we make and the loss of life after the Rana Plaza tragedy, is becoming abundantly clear. If you've have yet to hear about this now record-breaking ordeal, the collapse of the Rana Plaza building is the deadliest industrial disaster to hit the beleaguered South Asia region, and has resulted in three times the number of deaths that devastatingly took place during the Tazreen Fashions fire just five months ago. Despite all of the chest thumping when this disaster occurred, nothing has really changed in the race for trendy, yet cheap, clothes. History is repeating itself; all for a $10 dress that makes us feel pretty and cute and somewhat prepared for speed dating night.
What's that I hear? You can't afford to shop anywhere else but Forever 21, H&M, the Gap, and other similar store? Let's get serious for a moment, we can live without the latest fashions. We don't need all those new things, at least not at the rate that we are consuming them. Most of the stuff that buy, we wear once, if at all. Don't try to deny it, we did the polls and we got the numbers. Ok no one did any polls or did any number crunching on this here blog, but I swear, I have heard statistics buzzing. And let me tell you a little story.
Having gone through a fresh breakup, weight changes, job changes, new city, THE WORKS, I was really ready for a new wardrobe. Just because. I thought I was entitled and deserved one. Life kicked my butt and retail therapy, so I hear, is the answer. Along with a mani pedi and some serious flirting. So what did I do? I hit up TJ Maxx and my favorite thrift shops, blew through money I barely had, and guess how many pieces still have tags on them? Can we say more than half.
Sound familiar? Between work and a social life that is currently RIP status, I much prefer the uniform of P. Diddy circa 1997, just me in some Jersey sweatpants and a I'm-too-cool-to-care graphic tee. All the other fuss is just a facade and tv commercial marketing that won. Damn, my silly silly gullible brain.
I'm going to say something else that you may consider outrageous, and that is, when we shop mindlessly, we are supporting a new form of terrorism. Do you think that I'm overreacting? I would say my ex would agree (wink wink), but this is just my personal informed opinion. And I'm not swaying. I bet those 446 workers that died wouldn't disagree with me either. Their deaths occurred because retail brands and retailers pressured the factories to meet their production goals for pennies on the dollar. And they did all of this while refusing to pay for improvements that would make the buildings safer, or safe at all to be honest. In other words, the negligent behavior and greed of these big wigs are the reasons those innocent people died. Call it capitalism, call it ignorance, call it a good cover up. While we are so busy focusing on whether Gisele Bundchen's husband threw around a leaky football, there are real cover ups going on that start right inside our purse!
Still, it doesn't change the fact that our insatiable appetite for these low cost fashions are the fuel that drives these engines of greed. In fact, the fuel that we provide is so powerful, that tragedies like the ones at Rana Plaza and Tazreen are occurring more frequently. It has been just a little over 100 years since the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City that claimed the lives of 146 people. This disaster was the catalyst that changed the labor laws in the United States. Unfortunately, countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have not been as lucky. And wouldn't you know, in the last century, that's exactly the type of country we select to do our dirty production work now. With the convenient added bonus that what momma can't see can't hurt her. So long as we don't know how others suffer, we skip off to our date night in that sample sale dress.
For example, eight years after the collapse of the Spectrum garment factory (an incident that killed 64 people and injured much more) Western fast fashion companies are still refusing to sign the Bangladesh Fire Building and Safety Agreement. This agreement was developed by key labor stakeholders both in Bangladesh and abroad and would require independent building inspections, public accountability, worker-rights training, and a review of the country's safety standards.
It's time for these companies to admit that self-policing by corporate social-responsibility programs, for the most part, are not working. The CSR supply chain has no accountability and even when local monitors have sided with workers (due to employer exploitation) they are also ignored in order to spare these big companies the embarrassment. For shame.
While no one wants to think of themselves as terrorists, it's undeniable that terrible things are happening in these countries and being quiet about it is almost as bad as if you were the one doing the bad things yourself. Before you stop reading this article, and pish posh the points I've dished out, take some time to think about what was said. Let this post simmer and then make a decision about how you feel for these fast-fashion chains and the way they treat their workers. I decided to take the clean route and not tout about sad depressing images of workers burning alive or smothered in tons of skull-crushing concrete.
When we allow ourselves to become entranced by the promise of bargain-price fast fashion, when we purchase disposable clothing made by people who suffer from fainting fits because they don't make enough money to buy food, we are just as guilty as they are. We may not be setting fires to these factories, but our actions make us just as complicit. In the end, my denim motorcycle jacket is the only Forever21 piece I own (actually, just donated it recently) and haven't set foot in a chain store in almost two years. It's been excruciatingly hard, but if you need the help or a detox plan, just let me know. I've got your back. In the meantime, did you see the ethical fashion list I created just for you out of love?
WEARING: Thrifted linen blazer that I absolutely adore, but am still probing its masculine qualities, , Organic by John Patrick linen skirt, , M. Patmos cashmere scarf that is so soft and dreamy I could cry (okay I did, ), Elva Fields , and of course those damn