Last Tuesday, I went to pick up some knitting needles for the fiber art class I’m teaching. As I was putting the lock on my bike, I overheard the conversation of two girls (I think they were around 18 years old) as they walked by: “Oh, look at that, 25% off on everything in the store”. “YES, let’s get inside!”
This makes a lot of sense, since living on a budget ain’t easy and having to pay less might feel like a gift. However, the store they were about to enter was already a very cheap store. Pants for 19.95 euro, Dresses for 24.99 euro… and so on. How could this store even afford a sale?
It made me think about my own craft and how much time I invest in each piece. How, for me, it’s impossible to even consider 24.99 euro dresses. I can hardly find the materials for that price!
It’s very obvious to me, that this current concept of cheap, fast fashion can’t be fair to everyone involved in the process. As one of my clients stated on Wednesday:
“You shouldn’t be able to buy pants for 10 euro. If you think about it, you know that the people doing the hard physical labor are being abused and exploited. But there aren’t enough people changing their own behavior around this, to actually make a change right now”
What I know, from talking to my mother and grandmother about this, is that they didn’t have as much clothing 20 years ago as they do now. My mother had a small selection of outfits to choose from, with a very distinct task for each outfit: one for school, one for church/Sundays, one for playing outside and so on.
Statistics show that the only thing that didn’t go up in price over the years, is clothing. Everything else got more expensive! Now, that makes you wonder: how is that even possible? It’s not like labor or raw materials got cheaper… or did they?
Now, I don’t have all the statistics memorized, nor do I have a one size fits all solution for this problem. I’m just over here trying to educate and fix things, one slow-made garment at a time. But there are plenty of people well-versed in the world of fast fashion and possible solutions. I made a list of my favorite talks and documentaries on the subject below, so if you want to, have a look!
Some of my favorite talks and documentaries about fast fashion
No-nonsense, yet funny talk by Lucy Siegle about the numbers behind fashion and the cause of the numbers. Most shocking: Zara/the Inditex group produces 840 million items of clothing each year. 840 million items. That’s insane.
The True Cost is a documentary on fast fashion, you can watch it on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon.
More to read on fast fashion
Overdressed, the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline. It’s not an easy read, but it’s certainly eye-opening.
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