The fashion industry receives a lot of flack nowadays. The excess, the overtly sensual ads, the humanitarian handicaps, the waste, the law issues, and the list goes on.
The industry big brands have dedicated millions and millions to huge PR campaigns. Yet despite all those ads and efforts, the truth remains there: fashion is perhaps the dirtiest industry in the world.
There are particularly certain aspects they don’t want you to know:
Fashion is designed to make you feel “out of trend” within a week
Once upon a time, there used to be 2 fashion seasons only: Spring&Summer and Fall&Winter. Today the fashion industry has created 52 “micro-seasons” within a single year. New trends come out every week and the objective of this fast fashion reality is for consumers to purchase as many garments and accessories as possible, as quickly as possible.
Fast fashion merchandise is usually priced lower than the competition, working with a business model of low quality and high volume. Designers create new looks every week, and thus the fashion calendar for all these firms is set up to purposely make the consumer feel off-trend after a single wear.
There are hazardous chemicals on your clothes
According to the Center for Environmental Health, many popular fast fashion brands are still today selling lead-contaminated accessories and purses, shoes and belts above the legal amount, many years after signing an agreement committing to limit the usage of heavy metals in their products.
The Center for Environmental Health focuses on reducing the lead amount in products marketed to young and middle-aged women, since lead accumulation in bones may be released during her pregnancy, possibly harming both mother and fetus.
Lead exposures are also correlated with higher rates of infertility in women and even increased risks of heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes. Scientists agree there is actually no “safe” level of lead exposure for anyone.
The lead contamination is only one of the dangers: pesticides, formaldehyde, insecticides, flame-retardants and many other known carcinogens can be found on the clothes we wear.
Clothes are designed to fall apart
Fast fashion firms only care about the bottom line. Their businesses are dependent on the desire for new clothes to wear. This is instinctive if the clothing falls apart after one wash.
But why should we care? Because every one of us throws away insane amounts of textiles every year. We are not speaking of clothes being donated to charities: our clothing is going straight into landfills. Most of our clothes are made of synthetic, petroleum-based fibers, and thus it will take many years for those garments to decompose.
Beading and sequins are in general an indication of child labour
Certain estimates point out that twenty to sixty percent of garments produced are home-sewn by informal workers. While machines that can apply sequins and beading that look like handiwork actually exist, these machines are very pricey and must be bought by the garment factory. It’s very unlikely that a factory abroad will invest in this equipment, especially if the clothes being made are for a value-driven fashion firm.
Millions of desperate, underpaid home-workers are hidden in the poorest regions of the planet. Frequently with the help of their own children, these home workers sew as fast as they can the clothes that are eventually in our wardrobes.
What can you do to become a conscious consumer? Try and educate yourself about sustainable fashion, purchase local products, buy less, buy used items and buy from independent designers.