WHAT AM I WEARING?
Fashion is a form of communication. Before any words are spoken or hands are shaken, we communicate with our clothes. It’s a form of self-expression. But what does it say about me when I wear clothes made at the expense of human lives? What is in my closet? And do you know what’s in yours?
Most consumers, like me, do not know the origin of every article of clothing in their closets. Who made it? Were they paid adequately for their work? Were they in a factory with safe working conditions? Where was this factory located? Where did the cotton come from? Are there hazardous chemicals in the dyes? These are the questions in my head now when I look at my own clothes. I am unable to find the answers to most of these questions because the fashion industry is not transparent. Child labor, dangerous working conditions, and an inconceivable amount of waste and pollutants are all a part of today’s fashion industry. Fortunately not everyone turns a blind eye.
Documentaries such as “The True Cost” directed by Andrew Morgan, shed light on the dark truths of the fashion industry, “the second most polluting industry in the world”. It focuses on the fashion industry’s social and environmental impacts. I learned some horrifying truths. For instance, only 3% of clothes are made in America and this globalized production has resulted in low prices for all of us budget-savvy buyers. But these low costs are the result of cutting corners. Recently media highlighted one event in particular when hundreds of workers died in Bangladesh after a garment factory collapsed. And this is just one of many examples of how the industry disregards basic human rights. Is an $8 t-shirt worth a human life?
Today’s new revolution tagged “fast fashion” consists of about 52 seasons per year (compared to 2 seasons per year). There is a faster turnover and higher demand for more products every year, which results in corporations demanding lower production costs in order to have a competitively low price tag on products. The documentary highlights the very real and harmful cost behind these low price tags. Global movements and organizations such as Fashion Revolution also put a spotlight on the need to change the current problems within the fashion industry. They ask the right questions like their coined phrase “Who Made My Clothes?” (it’s now a popular hashtag). Awareness and mindfulness is the first step towards revolutionizing the fashion industry.
Though for some, ignorance is bliss. If I don’t know what happened in order for this sweater to be made, I can still happily and blissfully wear it. I cannot be expected to throw away all of my clothes made in China or Bangladesh. I would have nothing to wear! Some of these clothes might have been made ethically, but how can I as a consumer even begin to get all of the facts? So many companies hide the dirty details of production. That is an overwhelming task! Who has time for that?! (you might say) But I can begin to support the brands and small companies that work hard to be ethical, eco-friendly, and sustainable.
There IS some transparency in the fashion industry... you just have to look for it.
Next time you shop, think. (I know, I know, that’s a ridiculous request. Just look at that dress... it’s so sparkly and sleek!) But ask yourself: Why am I buying this? Is this an investment or a quick fix? The mindless need for consumption is the driving force behind the “fast fashion” revolution.
We as the customers, the consumers, have all the power. If we continue to buy it, it won’t stop. So I encourage you to get a greener wardrobe... a more ethical wardrobe... a closet full of clothes you can be proud to wear. If fashion is indeed a form of communication, Say something meaningful with your clothes.
I strongly urge you to do your research, because Knowledge is Power. Watch a documentary. Read about ethical fashion. And be a responsible buyer.
And finally, I challenge you this Holiday season to shop consciously and show your support for ethical sustainable fashion.
Join the Revolution!
~Compassion from me to you
Shout out to these fashion revolutionists and bloggers!
They have a wealth of knowledge and are a great resource for finding awesome brands to support! I've already made some holiday purchases from brands doing great work that I would not have found without a little help.