why you should care about fast fashion

Rana Plaza

02Bangladesh-web-master675DHAKA, Bangladesh — The police in Bangladesh filed formal murder charges on Monday against 41 people accused of involvement in the 2013 collapse of a building that housed several clothing factories, leaving more than 1,100 people dead in the worst disaster in garment industry history. (New York Times, June 1, 2015) See this short video to learn more.

Some of the companies that the factories at Rana Plaza manufactured apparel for were: Benetton, The Children’s Place, Mango, Joe Fresh, and Walmart.  

Rana Plaza was all about fast fashion. (I last wrote about fast fashion here. ) Fast fashion has become an insatiable machine. Large retailers demand frequent new designs and inexpensive clothing which results in demands for short production deadlines. So the factory owners and managers demand long hours in often horrible conditions from their employees. 

There are an estimated 4 million people employed by the apparel industry in Bangladesh, most of them women. 

There were eight stories of small factories in Rana Plaza. The top three had been built without permits. The day before the collapse the owner of the building was made aware of cracks in the foundation, nevertheless he said the building was safe and the workers were ordered back to work. The building collapse was a structural failure; it was simply not strong enough for the weight of the extra floors and the vibrations of heavy machinery. 

While we in the West are not the only ones who “benefit” from fast fashion, we are definitely hooked on it.  

But you can’t really expect people to be paid a living wage, for work done in decent surroundings, if you also expect t-shirts to cost the $10 dollars they often do these days. But far too many of us have grown accustomed to prices like that. So why should you care? There are many reasons, but in the case of Rana Plaza, the human toll is the one. Some things are that straightforward.

There are ways in which you can change your habits and get off the shopping merry go ’round. Many of those changes will simplify and improve the quality of your life. For hints on how to do this, please see this excellent post by my friend Esther in her Style & Conversation blog. 

Anita

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12 Comments

  • Lisa Froman says:

    Thank you for this informative piece. I can’t believe I never heard about this! I will be acting on your suggestions and sharing this.

  • So here I am nodding away and agreeing with your excellent post – only to find myself mentioned at the end!

    Anita, it’s always an honour to be included in your writing, thank you so much.

    It’s so good that formal charges have been made in relation to the Rana Plaza collapse and well done for continuing to highlight the need for change.

    Esther xx

  • This is only one of the reasons I prefer to make my own clothes when possible. Now I just have to figure out how not to dribble down the fronts of my tops or get a lot better at stain removal.

  • Haralee says:

    Thank-you for writing this. I too have written about fast fashion and knowing where your clothes are made and under what conditions.My companies garments are made locally at a real company that pays a living wage with benefits. How could I sleep at night if I knew I was enslaving workers. How do bottom dollar shoppers live with themselves for the latest fashion piece?

    • Anita Irlen says:

      Bravo! Haralee,

      I think what people need to remember is that on the consumer end of things, it’s really not that hard to just pay attention before you choose. Awareness is a start. Thanks for the comment, and keep up the good work.

  • Thank you for sharing and bringing this issue back to the forefront. #WomenofMidLife

  • Anita, kudos for illuminating the hidden cost of our consumer culture. We all need to be more thoughtful about the things we purchase. Thanks to people like you, a change is happening in food and fashion. It needs to happen in design as well. I’m making it my daily mission to show the world that ‘old’ is beautiful and ‘used’ is not a dirty word. 🙂

  • What an eye-opening piece about fast fashion. I’ll make sure to pass this along to the women I know. Fortunately, I don’t buy those pieces because they’re not good quality and don’t last. Thank you, Brenda

    • Anita Irlen says:

      Brenda,

      I’m not buying it either, anymore. Even if I have to wait to buy higher quality, slow fashion I do. One of my goals is to stop the madness and teach women about how it only makes sense, and saves money, in the long run to go with quality.

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