Environmental fashion

will boycotting fast fashion mean fewer jobs for factory workers?

October 28, 2019

This Facebook post from one of my dad’s friends really frustrated me at first but after a bit of digging, I realised a lot of people do think like this. They don’t have bad intentions (not a tory, vegetarian, overall nice person), which made me wonder if I could string together a bit of info to counter the above.

Firstly, what is fast fashion?

Simply put, fast fashion is trend led cheap clothing that is made to be worn once or twice before it goes out of style again. It’s mass produced in sweatshops because these huge factories can quickly and consistently generate clothing from designs sent over the day before, meaning your favourite Love Island quote can be slammed onto a T Shirt and sold in Primark just a few days after its first utterance.

These huge factories are part of networks, and large clothing companies partner with these networks to make sure their clothing gets made as quickly as possible. The problem with these networks is the number of steps between clothing brands and individual factory owners means legislation gets lost along the way. On top of this, the brand can plead ignorance if anyone investigates where their clothes come from.

Why are fast fashion factories situated in developing countries e.g. Bangladesh and China?

The cost of living in developing countries is much lower than in the UK, so western brands partner with networks of factories in poor areas where they can pay workers a lot less. These countries also lack the same legislation as we do, meaning a lot less can be spent on maintaining good conditions and implementing fair workers’ rights, leading to long hours and unsafe factories.

By using these factories, brands can keep their profit margins high despite their low retail prices, so that we keep buying from them.

How will boycotting these brands help?

Logically the effect should be: not buying certain brands will cause the company to lose money so they’ll stop using their factories and workers will lose their jobs and also lose money.

To avoid this, we need to be vocal about why we’re choosing to no longer buy these brands, so they have a chance to change their practices.

Although not buying any clothes is the most eco-friendly option, the best way to cause change is to buy from companies that already have fair worker’s rights, allowing them to grow and create more job opportunities.

Conclusion:

All any company cares about is money, so we need to show fast-fashion brands that we’re willing to spend more on brands which are transparent about where their clothes are made e.g. Lucy & Yak and Organic Basics. That way, large companies will better their practices so they can compete.

Below are two good articles I read, which will probably make a lot more sense than me! Let me know what you think in the comments.

nytimes.com/2017/04/27/opinion/do-sweatshops-lift-workers-out-of-poverty.html

highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/the-myth-of-the-ethical-shopper/

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