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2 Apr 2017

FIGHTING FAST FASHION


As you might have been able to guess; today’s post is about fighting against fast fashion. I’m going to share my vision on the whole thing and tell you a story about something wonderful that happened recently. Interested? Have a cup of tea and join the chat!



Let me start by telling you what fast fashion is. Here’s my personal definition.


‘A fast fashion brand is a brand who constantly updates its clothing collection according to the latest fashion trends. Furthermore, the brand sells these clothes at relatively low prices, giving them huge profits all over the world.’


Or more accurate, that would be my definition if I didn’t know any better. Sadly, this is how I would honestly describe fast fashion.


‘A fast fashion brand is a brand who sells its clothes at ridiculously low prices in order to gain as much profit as they possibly can. The only way they can do this is by exploiting their workers (sometimes children) in what are often third world countries. Exploiting workers includes paying them wages way below what’s needed to maintain a “normal” lifestyle (basic needs such as three meals a day, electricity, water and a place to live) and having them work up to 12 or more hours a day in a crowded, unsafe environment – aka sweatshops. But hey, profit before people, right?’


Why not people before profit? The sad thing about all of this is that everyone knows about it already. Don’t tell me you were surprised when you read that paragraph. Because deep down, you knew already. And we all know, that’s the point. Everyone knows but practically no-one has the guts (or the power) to step up and do something about it. But that’s bullshit. Let’s all step up and do something.


But how?

I’ve been following Kristen Leo for several months now. For those who don’t know, Kristen is a YouTuber who lives in Greece and promotes a sustainable lifestyle and ethical fashion. This girl is amazing at what she does. She makes videos that are truly eye-opening and very very inspiring, to say the least.
About two months ago, Kristen made a video called ‘The Richest Criminal in The World’, about Amancio Ortega, owner and founder of Inditex, richest man in the world, or as Kristen says: king of fast fashion, capitalism and consumerism. After watching the video, it hit me. I had to stop shopping at all of these awful stores. (Inditex is a fashion group and owner of Zara, Bershka, Pull and Bear and many more fast fashion stores.) There’s no way I’m willing to contribute to this madness any longer. I won’t go into detail about the video, but be sure to check it out here!

Someone named Katie commented on that video suggesting we could make posters about the consequences of shopping at these kinds of stores. I thought that was an amazing idea, so I commented that I would be more than happy to help out where I could.
A few more comments appeared, but eventually, nothing more happened.

Until a few weeks later, when Kristen uploaded a new video called ‘Why I don’t shop at H&M’. Frustrated as I was after hearing the facts once more, I impulsively commented saying I was going to start a Facebook-group to do something, anything about this problem.

Instantly, my comment was flooded with replies and likes. My Facebook-group started growing, faster than I would have ever guessed. In 24 hours, more than 100 people had joined (which doesn’t really sound like a huge number, but considering I thought I’d maybe be able to get max. 20 people on board, 100 people was pretty big to me!). Even Kristen herself replied to my comment saying that she loved the idea of a Facebook-group. Not much later, she joined the group herself!

Today (a little over one week of existence), our group consists of exactly 401 passionate people, a number that is still growing every day (and we got a boost in membership requests when Kristen gave us a shout out on her Instagram!). With 10 amazing fellow-admins on board, we’re starting to plan out a whole event-week to raise awareness on fast fashion brands. Our ideas range from organising screenings of ‘The True Cost’ documentary – a must see! -, writing open letters to fast fashion stores, hanging up posters and stickers and even making a social media challenge go viral.

What started as an impulsive idea of mine, suddenly turned into a community of people who share the same values. I love how we all have the same interests. I love how our members are from 29 different countries all over the world. I love how we all value people over profit. Safe working conditions and fair wages over cheap clothing prices. Stepping up and taking action over convenience, conforming and doing nothing.


I recently read an article about cheap clothing in the University of Ghent magazine and I liked how the interviewer asked about cheap clothing not being ‘kosher’. Someone responded with this:



Translation: If you’re only after paying low prices, you can’t wish for sustainability and fair working conditions. The only thing you’re interested in is the price.


How can you help?

But what can you do? I know you might feel like you can’t really do anything as an individual, but that’s far from the truth.

  1. STOP shopping at fast fashion stores.
    You’re only giving them more profit and you’re supporting the exploitation of their workers. Besides, the quality of their clothing items is often far from great.
    Big fast fashion stores include H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Nike, Zara, Primark, Gap, Topshop, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Adidas, Victoria’s Secret, Uniqlo, Mango, … The list doesn’t stop there.

  2. Shop locally.
    Buy your clothes from local brands, who have a team that makes the clothes. Or find someone who makes clothes themselves. If you’re from Belgium, check out Miasu (@miasushop on Instagram)! Sarah makes her own unique sweaters at a very fair price! I’ve been trying to get a hold of one, but they sell out in no time!

  3. Shop second hand. Although this might sound a bit strange, shopping second hand only has benefits! You can often find unique, high quality pieces at low prices. You’re not contributing to workers exploitation and you’re saving items that otherwise would be sent to landfill. Good thrift shops always make sure to wash and touch up clothes before selling them. Think Twice is an amazing second hand shop in different cities in Belgium.

    I know the thought of wearing someone else’s clothes is a bit weird at first, but if they’re not stained and properly washed, you shouldn’t mind. I’d rather wear a clean second hand shirt than a shirt that has been made by a girl who lost her life in the Rana Plaza collapse. (In 2013, a clothing factory in Bangladesh with very poor safety regulations collapsed, killing 1129 people. Another 2500 people were injured.)

    I can hear you thinking; what about buying a second hand H&M shirt? I would personally say that’s fine, as long as you don’t promote buying from H&M. But that’s something we can discuss in a different post.

  4. Join our Fighting Fast Fashion group!
    If you want to take action and stand up against fast fashion stores, don’t hesitate to join our Facebook-group here! Everyone is welcome!

I really do hope that you’ve read through this whole post and that you’re going to shop responsibly from now on.
Remember, what we want is not for H&M and other fast fashion stores to start firing their workers. We want them to work max. 8 hours a day, at a fair wage and in safe working conditions. And if that means that I’ll have to pay €50 instead of €5 for a basic white shirt, I’d be more than happy to.


‘Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.’ – Anna Lappé


So next time you’re in the changing rooms, think twice about what you’re spending your money on. :)


Sources:


5 comments:

  1. Oh zo tof om mijn naam hier plots te zien verschijnen, superlief! Je schrijft over hele interessante dingen, goed bezig!!

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    1. Hey Sarah! Dankjewel! Je sweaters zien er gewoon té leuk uit, dat ik ze in een post over kledij echt niet kon weglaten! :)
      Jij ook dikke proficiat met Miasu, het is zot om te zien hoe snel je webshop is gegroeid! Doe zo voort!

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  2. You rock!! And I haven't even read through this yet, but I know it's good. So tomorrow at lunch I know what to read. Just wanted to say hi here, looking forward to follow your blog!

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    1. Aw thank you so much Martin! I haven't been posting much lately, but I can't wait 'till my exams are over! I'm super excited to get back to it! Thanks again for your kind words, it means a lot!

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