What’s The Origin? / Ethical Fashion

I walk into a mall. I spot a sale on at one of my favourite stores. I rush in, my heart racing at the thought of a new shiny garment in my hands. My hands frantically rush through the sale racks. Is there nothing in my size? Its only R100! I have to take something home! Ah, finally! I spot a grey tee-shirt in a size XS. That’s something I’ll wear, right? I have another three or so at home, so I know I wear things like this. I rush to the checkout point. Stick my debit card in the machine and pay for my purchase. I get a shiny new carrier to add to my collection at home. Brrt. Brrt.Β The verification of purchase has come through from my bank. I get home and fling the fourth grey tee-shirt in a size XS into my wardrobe that is so full that I can’t even get to the stuff at the bottom. But, it’s okay, right? I feel good. Well, I felt good. The euphoria lasted all of ten seconds. Instant gratification. It’s worth it right?Β 

Does any of this sound familiar to you? It certainly sounds familiar to me. However, that’s not me anymore.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been doing more and more research into fast fashion and the implications thereof. A disclaimer before I start: I certainly don’t sport a wardrobe comprised only of ethical brands. There’s more to an ethical closet than just that.

The fashion industry has grown exponentially in my lifetime alone. There are constantly new retail stores popping up with brightly-coloured signage, luring you in, trying to get you to spend your money and in return, you’ll get another piece of low-quality clothing that you don’t need or want.

But there’s more to the clothes you wear than just the shiny, polished rack they hang on in the store before you buy it. There’s a lot more. Have you ever thought about where they come from? The hands that touched the cloth you wear on your skin? The hands that slaved away to sew up the garments that hang on the rails of high-end stores? Are those hands happy? Do those people earn enough to live? Workers in sweatshops of some of the most highly coveted brands in the world are slaving away daily, with minimal breaks, if any, to produce the clothing we purchase, without giving it second thought. To give an example, since 2010, 8000 workers in an H&M sweatshop have collapsed from malnutrition, and the heat inside the factories, to name a few.* Most of these workers were earning less than minimum wage.

Due to the meteoric growth of the fashion industry, major brands can’t keep up with demand, without compromising on quality and ethics. Now, if you’re anything like me, the whole situation makes me feel terribly guilty, very helpless, and a bit stuck. What do I wear? Ethical brands can cost a small fortune (understandably so; they pay their workers decently), and being a teenager, with an unstable body shape, I’m constantly outgrowing clothes, and can’t be spending too much.

We end up having to buy fast fashion for lack of anything else. Understanding that there is a backstory to the clothes you wear is a good place to start. Educate yourself. Do research to see which brands have the most healthy factories and pay their employees above minimum wage and shop there instead. First prize would be to shop ethical brands, but that can be costly, and is unattainable for many. Be practical, and be educated.

One way I try to be more conscious is by doing a price comparison before I buy an item of clothing. I check how much it costs at a fast fashion retail store, and how much it costs at a local, ethical brand. If the latter is the same, or less (sometimes it is!), I choose to buy the ethical brand.

By educating yourself about fast fashion and the industry, you can make smarter choices, and end up with a little more peace of mind. There are some great resources that have amazing articles and resources. One of them is Fashion Revolution, an incredible organization that is changing the way we see fashion.

Its a process and a journey. It takes time, and it takes reading and learning. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re curious about the working conditions of the employees of a factory making the clothes you wear, ask! I tweet brands all the time!

“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone somewhere, is paying.” – Lucy SiegleΒ 

Nabeela x

{*Source:Β The Sun }Β 

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Published by

Nabeela Parkar

Blogger, Digital Content Creator, Aspiring Designer, Artist, Minimalist

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