“Fast Fashion” is a term given to the ideology of clothing that approaches design, creation, and marketing of apparel that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers”. Please take note of the words “quickly” and “cheaply” that capture fast fashion’s essence. These fast fashion brands produce clothes quickly and are constantly asking their consumers to feel the need to consume more. They achieve this feat by keeping their production costs low and advertising budgets large. Fast Fashion brands such as Zara and H&M use cheap labour force, unsafe working conditions, and operate in countries that have low environmental regulations.
The fashion industry in itself has a massive impact on the world today. Because it is one of the largest manufacturing industries, it comes as no surprise that 1 out of 6 people alive work in some form of the fashion industry today, where you can clearly see greed and power on one side, poverty and fear on the other.
The companies don’t usually own these factories, so they don't acknowledge their responsibility. However, we should acknowledge that human capital is part of this incredible formula. Without human capita and cheap female labour, it would not be generating the profits that it has. All clothing has been touched by human hands.
As consumers, we communicate who we are, to a certain extent through our clothes. We choose our skin and our communication. Every new fashion season brings about a new idea of fashion, and new trends are born. This also means that clothes from last season are thrown out. We are buying 400% more clothes than just two decades ago. The increase in consumption also has its consequences. We went from seeing clothes as a product to consuming them like toilet paper or cigarettes.
If the economic system is not been criticised for many years, it tends to get rotten. Capitalism is one of the major reasons why the fashion industry acts the way it does today. The main thing you have to do if you work in a capitalist system is to generate profit. They drive wages low to create more profit than the competition.
The land is treated as if it were a factory. The past 10 years have shown us that 80% is now GM cotton - Genetically Modified cotton. Most of the cotton in India is grown in the Punjab region, which is growing to become of the largest user of pesticides in India. The harmful effects of chemicals on human health are cancer, physical retardation, mental retardation, birth defects etc. The companies responsible for the fertilizers and pesticides refuse to acknowledge the after-effects of these chemicals, and that proves to me highly toxic in the long term.
If it’s all about the profit, who’s really thinking about the costs? The cost of the water, the labour, bars on windows, people dying when a fire breaks out, or the cost of the farmers who have no access to education and health care? These are some things worth pondering about.
Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2020-01-13