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Fast Fashion and the Evil Bargain

Tran Nguyen | Posted on August 23, 2019

A picture taken during the protest for worker's right

MUNIR UZ ZAMAN

If you need a white shirt, where would you go to get it?

I assume over half of you guys will say such brands as H&M, Forever 21, Zara, etc. Those brands win because of the two most powerful factors: they are cheap and they are convenient. However, I hate to break the bad news to you but the cheap price comes with a cost. With a continuous controversy surrounding the fast fashion industry over the past few years, it’s time to speak up about the matter.

Fast Fashion and the Evil Bargain

clothing

Photo courtesy of thredUP

In 2013, a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh. 1,134 people were found dead and trapped inside the factory. After the investigation, it was confirmed that the workers had notified their supervisor about the cracking on the building’s wall, however, in order to keep up the productivity and work pace, their words were neglected. The tragedy acts as a warning towards terrible working conditions. Factories have to compete with each other and push down their prices in order to attract more businesses-like Zara and H&M. Therefore, a factory’s owner has to minimize the production cost by decreasing the building cost and labor cost. The victim here in this situation is, nonetheless, the workers because their paycheck is lower and they must work in horrifying conditions for the profit of the big corporations and the factory owner.

All of that is happening because of a thing called “fast fashion.” Fast fashion is when a brand is able to update its collection every week to keep up with the trends. Even though that sounds really expensive brands are able to do it because the cost of one shirt is much lower than what they actually sell for. The cheap price doesn’t come from any excellent business strategy. They come from abusing the worker with low wages. However, the workers cannot say no to the job because of the poverty condition and high unemployment rate in their country. In other words, they don’t have a choice.

Therefore, we have to change the situation. The easiest yet hardest thing we can do is minimize our purchase in fast fashion brands. The simple logic is a high demand comes with high supply. Consequently, there are plenty of alternatives such as thrift stores, local clothing brands, etc. The difference between us and the workers is we have a choice when they don’t. There is limited power for union workers and poor working policies. If you don’t have any other options besides buying clothes in fast fashion brands, at least you get to know where that cheap white shirt comes from.

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