The fight against fast fashion is important. Well over one thousand garment workers died in 2013 alone so that we can have $30 Vetements-esque jeans and cheap copies of other runway looks. Many more individuals have been killed or seriously injured (and continue to be killed and seriously injured), as authentic styles are being plucked from the runway and copied in large quantities, at direct cheap costs, and at rapid turn-over rates.
But these facts alone are not enough to change the minds of most consumers, especially when these ugly truths are couples with our collective expectation that fashion should be trendy and cheap (because fast fashion retailers facilitate this) and our excessive consumption practices.
Aside from doing our part to reduce the pain and suffering of others (namely, women and children working in the garment industry in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, and other far-flung locations) and to minimize our excessive consumption patterns, for the sake of the planet, it seems reasonable to suggest that in addition to suggesting change of the general public, editors, bloggers, and major fashion websites, alike, should consider moving away from the daily praise and promotion of fast fashion retailers and the individuals who continually profit enormously from it.
The vast majority of fashion websites are not helping the cause. Think: praising Nasty Gal for its “innovation” and “Girl Boss” founder (while failing to mention the number of lawsuits alleging discrimination against female employees), talking up the latest Zara lookbook (which may or may not be made using slave labor), presenting the latest designer “Look for Less” and counting down until Beyonce’s latest collection for Topshop hits stores.
Sure, these same sites frequently report on the latest tragedies connected to garment manufacturing in Bangladesh, the less-than-green practices of fast fashion retailers (think: excessive pollution and waste, toxic and flammable chemicals in clothing, and the extensive greenwashing efforts that brands, like H&M, utilize to trick consumers), and the latest examples of who-copied-whose original design. Yet, the next post (Literally, sometimes. Figuratively, other time.) is some form of promotion of fast fashion.
Yes, fashion is a business and websites are not founded upon social missions with the responsibility of educating readers about the dangers of fast fashion. And yes, many websites are often just reacting to readers’ interests in creating content. Still yet, we cannot expect consumers to spend beyond their means or drastically change their shopping habits in furtherance of safer, more sustainable clothing production.
Nonetheless, that does not necessarily mean that heavily trafficked websites are exempt from striving for something greater or at least, reporting objectively. If we all try to focus a bit more on the promotion of sustainable fashion and/or buying less but buying better (which likely cannot be achieved at Forever 21, Nasty Gal and the like) and/or reporting objectively about the workings of fast fashion brands, maybe we can have a positive effect on the consumer. Is that not that our duty as purveyors of information in the realm of fashion anyway?
* This article was first published on January 2, 2013.