I have had a few other posts in the pipeline, but today is the anniversary of what should have been a significant wake up call for the fashion industry. Prepare for me to firmly mount my soapbox. (you have been warned, last chance to bail out in 3…2… 1….)
One year ago 1,133 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed. If you missed this story last year, basically, the eight story factory collapsed from major infrastructure problems and safety lapses. It is thought to be one of the deadliest disasters in the history of the garment industry.
Since then, not much has changed. Social and environmental catastrophes in the fashion industry continue to happen. It’s said that “clothes make the man or woman”. So, what does the conditions your clothing was made under say about you? For us Yanks, our society completely glosses over this issue. When was the last time you heard someone question how or where their clothing was made? How about someone boasting what a great bargain they got? Who wants to think about such depressing things, like who made your clothes, when that Forever21 or H&M shirt is soo cute (and only $11!!). Please note sarcasm…
I recently read “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth Cline (website here), and have since been delving into the blogosphere researching the impact of fast fashion. I read before bed, so I would fall asleep each night all full of piss and vinegar, totally ready to clean out my closet and save the world. Woo! Of course, by the time I awoke, that fervor would fade, and oftentimes I would find an (irresistibly) cute piece of apparel I couldn’t live without, regardless of the country of origin. It did, however, over time help me to start taking into consideration the consumer culture we live in.
When American Apparel published their “Made in Bangladesh” ad, there was considerable backlash. Surprising? Not really. Lets face it, when don’t their marketing endeavors cause backlash?
Personally, I liked the ad, and I liked the uproar it caused. It created a dialogue about the conditions of clothing made in Bangladesh and other countries. It is about time we stopped hiding behind our busy schedules and Starbucks cups. I have been having a personal mental crisis lately about trends, fast fashion, and what style really means. It’s been a bit of a wake-up call. I love to wear classic, well-made garments I have had for ages, and have been questioning why I chase–and throw away money on– trendy pieces I wear only a handful of times.
One of my favorite fashion blogs, The Business of Fashion, did a call to action today–asking style savvy individuals to think about their fashion choices and the trend of mindless fashion (see the article here), and it added even more fuel to the fire.
I am very curious to see where this leads in the future. I hope big changes are plausible, but realize how far we have to go for society to change what it considers clothing to be worth. We have lost an exponential amount of quality and craftsmanship in the clothing we are willing (and able) to purchase in the last fifty years. I think we need to stop just seeing the clothing, and the immediate satisfaction of acquiring it, and remember the craftsmen that toil to create each piece. I have a long way to go to practice what I preach, let’s see where this takes me.
What is your take on the future of fast fashion?