Is it harsh to hear that? Let me repeat. Fashion industry is killing people. And it isn’t just about the models and the people who look up to them, I am talking about an even bigger problem – the people behind clothes, people who actually make clothes that we buy and wear everyday. They are working in horrible conditions under a huge pressure. In the past few years many innocent people were killed in “accidents” that could have been prevented. One of the most problematic countries is Bangladesh, because it’s the cheapest one – people (the majority of them are women) work a whole month for just a few dollars. It’s because of them that we are able to buy cheap clothes, but at what cost? For the cost of lives of innocent people? For the cost of our environment being heavily polluted?
A Bangladesh garment factory after a fire. Over a hundred innocent people were killed in that “accident”.
A Bangladesh garment factory collapsed in 2013. Over a thousand innocent people were killed in that “accident”.
Ever heard of “fast fashion”? It describes low cost clothing collections that reflect current fashion trends. Fast fashion garments are cheap and made from low-quality materials. This is what we are buying every day in shops like H&M, ZARA, Primark, Benetton, Topshop etc. Petro-chemical-based materials such as polyester and acrylic are not harmful only to people who make clothes and our environment, but also to us – people who buy and wear them.
Now, here’s the question you have probably been asking: “Will I give up my dreams to work in fashion?” My answer is no. But I will definitely ask myself how can I contribute to a better world when it comes to fashion. What can we do about this huge problem? Here are my guidelines/suggestions:
- Buy thoughtfully and when you are choosing your garments at the store or online, ask yourself:
- Do I really need this?
- Will I actually wear this?
- How can I combine this to other garments in my wardrobe?
- Why am I buying? (again: Do I really need it or it’s just for fun?)
- Buy organic cotton. Chemicals used in other materials have a tremendous impact on the earth’s air, water, soil, and the health of people. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. There are a lot of benefits from buying organic cotton for the farmers who grow them, the consumers and the environment. It causes fewer allergies and reduces respiratory problems which is very important, especially for our children.
- Buy garments made from natural fibers (cotton, linen, silk, wool, cashmere, hemp). Natural fibers are breathable. The “breathability” of natural fiber textiles makes their wearers less prone to skin rashes, itching and allergies often caused by synthetic materials. Natural fibers are responsible and sustainable choice.
- Buy more expensive and good quality garments. Rather one great, versatile piece from natural materials than 5 pieces from chemically processed materials. Why? You will do something good for your health and the environment and the garment will last more than one season. Also, it will probably be harder for you to throw it away easily if you spent a little more.
- Buy key pieces in neutral colors. They blend well with other colors and they don’t stand out. The best thing about them is that they will be always fashionable, unlike other “seasonal” colors.
- Buy garments made in EU or other well developed countries where “slavery” (working in horrible conditions under a huge pressure) isn’t permitted.
- Swap clothes (clothing swap or swap party) is a sort of an “event” where people can swap their clothes. It is free and you can always have something new in your wardrobe.
- Buy fair trade garments. Fair-trade labelling is based on a set of international standards guaranteeing producers in developing countries a fair and stable price, regardless of global market fluctuations. The Fair-trade approach offers an alternative way to the injustices of conventional trade which traditionally exploits the poorest, weakest producers and misuses natural resources.
Do you know who gets the money from your 10€ t-shirt? (non fair trade)
5€ – retail clothing shop
2.25€ – label brand
1.75€ – materials and production costs
0,70€ – taxes and distribution
0.27€ – cotton farmers
0.03€ – workers wages
It isn’t necessary to give up your dreams or your “passion for fashion”. Just try to follow the above guidelines. Think with your own head, not the head of the crowds or mass media.
You have to ask yourself what kind of world will you leave to your children, your grandchildren? Do you even care – but really?
I know I will do it for me, for my children, for my grandchildren, for the world. I will do it for a better tomorrow – for everyone.
What about you?
* if you would like to educate yourself a little bit more about this problem I suggest watching documentaries like “The corporation” and “The true cost”.