Whether it’s the slavery that infiltrates supply chains, the poor working conditions, concerns about the sustainability of material sourcing or the limited life-span of the majority of fast fashion garments, in recent years we have become increasingly aware of the damaging impact that the fast fashion industry has on people and planet.
Even since Covid-19 caused the world to halt for a while, the fast fashion pandemic raged on.
So what’s happened with this fashion pandemic since lockdown began?
With the constraints that Covid-19 put on the fashion industry, many brands turned to cancelling orders. #Payup is campaigning for brands to pay suppliers for cancelled orders, which left workers unpaid and stock wasted.
Slave Labour and Boohoo
A Leicester factory supplying clothing for Nasty Gal (a brand part of the Boohoo group) was found to be paying workers £3.50 an hour by an undercover reporter for the Sunday Times. The minimum wage for adults in the UK is £8.72. #BoycottBoohoo was trending and people were outraged that such exploitation was happening so close to home.
H&M – #Sustainable?
Fashion Revolution recently labelled H&M the ‘World’s Most Transparent Brand’. H&M celebrated their newly acclaimed title with an instagram post using #sustainability, misleading their following of 35.5 million by suggesting that transparency is synonymous with sustainability.
Yet this is not a momentary blip
Though Covid-19 may have highlighted these injustices, they have occurred within the industry since fast fashion began.
Unethical practices and poor relationships between suppliers and brands, as well as false sustainability claims aren’t new or unique issues. And with claims of slave labour in Boohoo’s supply chain, the outrage was largely provoked by the fact that such exploitation could happen so close to home. We have developed an unhealthy relationship with fast fashion. We’ve settled for blissful ignorance towards the mistreatment of garment workers in the global South. Furthermore we’ve fallen into consumerism’s trap of always striving for more ‘stuff’, without a thought for people and planet.
You may be asking – what can I do?
There’s loads of great resources out there if you’re starting on a journey of consuming clothing more ethically, such as here on the We Are Tearfund magazine. And though Fashion Revolution may have made a mistake labelling H&M ‘The World’s Most Transparent Brand’, they are generally a great resource too.
Think in terms of consuming less and consuming well. Support ethical businesses, shop second hand and ask high street retailers, ‘who made my clothes?’ with the hope that we will one day see a more cost and size inclusive industry where ‘ethically made’ is the norm.
This is an invitation to slow down, step away from a culture that is always striving for more and into a rhythm of consuming more consciously as an act of whole life worship. It’s a decision to love and honour Jesus by loving and honouring the garment workers so often exploited for the sake of our consumption.