The fashion industry is one of the most taxing and destructive fields there ever has been.
Did you know that, second to oil pollution, it’s the highest source of environmental contamination?
The fashion industry is all about exploitation. There is not a single person who goes unscathed in the process of making and selling articles of clothing.
Let’s start with the farmers who produce the cotton.
In places like Bangladesh, (the key word here is ‘cheap’.) farmers are often working in already challenging environments. Unpredictable, dangerous weather subjects a person’s lifework to being destroyed by floods, or freak storms.
Oh, and there’s the genetically modified seed component too. Designed to resist pests that affect the growth and quality of cotton crops, they veer on the pricier side. Combine that with other related factors, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Crippling debt is one of the reasons many farmers take their own lives.
Suppose none of that happens, well, there’s still the pesticides that need to be sprayed on the crops. Dangerous chemicals that are known for causing a wide array of illness- mental, physical. This includes birth defects in unborn babies.
Sometimes the government decides to take away land too.
And then it comes time to talk about what these people actually get back for all the work they’re putting in:
You’ve got your fabric.
Who makes your clothes?
The poorest and most disadvantaged people.
The fashion industry is built on greed, too. It’s practically a principal.
Picture the richest people you can. Filthy rich. They don’t care about how they get their money. They just care about ending up wealthier at the end of the day, and having to spend the least amount possible on clothing production, which is often done in bulk.
So, they go to the most disadvantaged parts of the world to make the clothes they sell, because they know they’ll pay the least. Not all countries have minimum wages, and not all have workers rights. Some places are so dirt poor that they’ll take on any business offered, even though they know it’s not worth it. They just can’t afford not to.
Workers are treated horribly, and spent many hours each day in unsafe working conditions. Some garment factories even built illegal extra floors on top of buildings that are unable to support the extra weight. Take the Rana Plaza tragedy as an example. The day of the collapse, workers reported cracks in the building, but were forced to stay and work. I’m not sure what kept them there, but I’ve no doubt they were probably threatened with losing their jobs. That same day, over a 1000 people ended up dead.
This is proof of what a ruthless, cruel industry fashion is.
There is no choice whatsoever.
Even the people who seemed to have power in these situations, like the managers of the building, most likely were as hopeless as the workers.
The average wage of a Bangladeshi garment factory worker is around 21 cents per hour. Compare that to a job at McDonalds, where a teenage employee earns a little over 10$ an hour. Times that by four and you’ve got the average amount that a worker earns in a month.
Not good enough.
And then we come to the fashion industry who have their own little tricks.
Clothes so cheap that we can throw them away without thinking twice.
This allows new clothes to constantly grace stores, turning people in mindless consumers who turn to materialism for a happy boost.
But what a lie that is.
Have things ever made you happy?
Or at least, it doesn’t last. You’ve got to love it for a bit, and then it turns into just another belonging. So you buy more.
Cheap clothing is another thing we seem to love, but that’s a trap in itself. In purchasing such items, slave labour is supported and we don’t end up owning anything that lasts or has true value to us.
So you buy more.
Now, onto my next point:
The models in this industry.
Or the clothes hangers. You choose.
Did you read the last statistic amongst the photos above?
These people are also getting hurt.
Society is a bit of a tricky bastard. Everything that it criticises it also idolises.
The mental and physical health of models is so overlooked. And here’s where greed factors in again. The people at the top don’t care about the cost. Even if that cost is human.
Are you suprised at how un-glamorous the fashion industry really is? Because I know I am.
I’m not sure about you, but this is something I will not support. We need change, and lots of it. I’m calling on the people with status, the people who can initiate big change, but also people like you and me. People who care enough to stand up and speak like their very own life was dependant on it.
I refuse to wear the blood, sweat and tears of another person.