We loved John Oliver’s piece on fast fashion. This will be the best 17 minutes you spend today. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and hopefully you’ll be inspired to make a difference.
John breaks down the 3 big problems with the way our clothes are made today:
1. Cheap. “Trendy clothing are cheaper than ever, and cheap clothing are trendier than ever”. We can pay as little as $20 for a dress at a place like Forever 21. Yet fast fashion companies are incredibly profitable — the CEO of Zara is the 4th richest man in the world. Makers pay the price.
2: Fast. It takes just 3 weeks for clothes shown on runways to be in stores. Many fast fashion companies change inventory weekly. Makers have to work longer, faster, and harder for less money to keep up with our ever-changing tastes.
3: Disposable. The only way to make a profit with rock bottom prices is volume. So companies have conditioned us to want more and more clothes that look cute but fall apart. The average American buys 64 garments a year! But what about the water and energy used to make them, not to mention the landfills all these clothes end up in?
John touches on the fact that today 98% of clothes are made overseas. Remember that Made in the USA does not necessarily mean the conditions are any better. There are sweatshops even in LA! Plus makers in Cambodia and Bangladesh need these jobs. These jobs are the best first step out of poverty.
So what should we do?
1. Ask about the maker: Next time you see a $15 dress at Target or Forever 21, Tweet and ask the brand: “@brand why is this so cheap? How much did you pay the maker?” #remakeourworld. Share brand responses back with us. You are powerful. If you ask, and get your friends to ask, brands will pay attention.
2. Advocate with your shopping dollars: Reward brands that respect makers and the planet. Here’s some inspiration on where to shop.
3. Chose durable over disposable. Isn’t a cute t-shirt that costs a bit more but respects the people who made it a fashion statement worth repeating? Rather than 10 tops that hurt the people who made them?
Ask about the maker. Advocate with your shopping dollars. Chose durable over disposable.
Over time many of us have revolted against fast food, recognizing the human and planetary cost of a big Mac and KFC chicken. The demand for organic has exploded, as have restaurants promoting local, farm-to-table and sustainable. It’s not uncommon to be seated and be told, “the beef is grass-fed, the chickens are free range.” Slow food has made a comeback.
It’s time to do the same with fast fashion. Our clothes define who we are. They touch our bodies everyday. Shouldn’t we know how they were made? That no one was hurt and mistreated while making them? If we want to feel cute, don’t we want to make sure there aren’t nasty chemicals, wasted water and energy in our clothes?
Let’s start to make small shopping choices that can impact both the people who make our clothes and the way we feel when we wear them. Together we can #remakeourworld.