(Pictured above is a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed due to poor safety standards.)
As I sit here and think about how to word this blog post, my smallness seems to elevate. As I read articles on fast fashion and the effects of it on others I feel overwhelmed with the bigness of the issue and the littleness of me. There are so many problems that lie in the middle of this and that. This is a hard post for me to write. It’s hard because I know this isn’t something that is easily fixed. Instead of trying to figure it all out, I will share from my heart how I perceive it. Maybe you will relate and maybe not. Either way I want to share a few of my own thoughts to raise awareness.
I have never been one to keep up on the latest fashion. I tend to keep my clothes around way too long and have a hard time parting with things that are not worn out. That is just who I am. When I watched the documentary The True Cost of Fashion on Netflix, I was floored at the concept of fast fashion. Buying an outfit to just throw it away after a couple uses? The idea that brands like H&M, Forever 21, and Zara nickel and dime factories overseas to get us the cheapest fashion possible so we can buy it and toss it. It made me feel sick. I was totally oblivious to this concept. Before I started sewing my clothes I was never really into fashion. I didn’t really like shopping so I bought basic things and paired them differently for different looks. Going out and buying a bunch of cheap clothes never appealed to me. Sure I was always on the lookout for a good deal and not afraid to snatch it up if I happened to find it, but I never hunted them down. I bought what I needed, when I needed it.
Fast fashion started as competition rose amongst retailers. By demanding to pay manufactures less and decreasing the profits on their clothing, fast fashion was born. Sure the retailers are getting less for their items, but they are selling more. These cheap clothes are too hard to pass up. On top of that, marketing makes us believe if we buy more, we will be happier. We stuff our closest because it is the latest fashion and it is just so darn cheap! This leads to an over abundance of clothing in our closets, thrift stores, land fills, and third world countries. Not only does this lead to lots of waste, it also continues the demand for more cheap clothing. In turn factory workers are treated unfairly and paid very minimal wages. Wages we wouldn’t even dream of living on. Now I don’t want to throw all the factories into this one clump, but I do know how much goes into sewing clothes. I know if the store is selling a shirt at $10.00 or lower most likely the factory that they are buying their garments from is not enforcing labor laws. I am going to assume if something is dirt cheap the person that made it is not being treated properly.
I knew there were people over seas slaving away to make me a garment. I knew they were no where near as privileged as me. But I never comprehended how much so. I never put a face to my garment. I just wrote it off as a way of life over there. Much of it is a way of life. A way we as American’s can’t fix. That is up to the governments in those countries. Another part of it is however the demand for cheap and fast fashion. The demand of lots of clothes at cheap prices. By taking part in fast fashion we are enabling even worse conditions for those overseas. My actions have an effect on others whether I like to think so or not.
What we don’t see when we buy a shirt is the person who made it. The person working for $1 a day in unfit conditions. We see a cheap price tag and leave feeling accomplished. Since I have been sewing, I know what goes into it. I have heard people say “that’s so expensive” when I am at craft shows. I want to tell them why it is so expensive. Because I put my time, energy, and money into creating a quality product made right here in America. Sewing is not this fast process. Every shirt we buy in a store has been touched by human hands. Sewing is not something that we can hand over to a machine. The louder we get about cheap, the harder the working conditions for a human being becomes. Like I said not all of it has to do with us, it is also the governments of the other countries, but we do drive part of it. We may be providing them with a job, but fast fashion squelches their working conditions and increases the time they are required to spend working. Their pay is decreasing and their hours are increasing. All in the name of fast cheap fashion.
It was really hard for me to write this post. I don’t want to sound harsh and judgmental. I just want to awaken others to the idea that maybe less is more. Maybe it is ok to shop a little less. Maybe it is ok to buy a few expensive things rather than multiple cheap things. Maybe it is ok to see the impact our choices have on others. My choices do have an effect on others whether I like it or not.
More Resources on the topic of fast fashion:
I think we can all make a difference. If you want to share your difference follow me @darcyschock on Instagram and use #differencebyone to inspire others to follow their passion. Because every single day each one of us make a difference if it feels significant or not. Why not share it to inspire all of us to do better one person at a time.