Fast fashion is just that: fashion that is made fast. The problem is that this high speed of production contributes to many dangerous and unfair elements for the garment worker.
Let's take a moment to think - if we are buying a $5 shirt from SHEIN, those five dollars need to include costs for: materials, shipping, packaging, labeling, cotton farmers, AND payment for the workers who made the garment. Is there any possible way that everyone in that scenario is being paid enough? Absolutely not. And the person who usually gets gypped is the person who is making the entire piece of clothing possible: the garment worker and/or farmer.
How is this happening, you ask?? Fast fashion production facilities are located in countries referred to as emerging or developing markets. Fast fashion retailers employ thousands of people from Bangladesh, India, China, Indonesia, and other developing nations as a cheap workforce. In most developing countries, labor laws are hardly enforced and safety regulations are nearly nonexistent, making working conditions extremely dangerous (search Rana Plaza). According to Free Rain International’s research, not only do these people have to work exhausting hours (12-16 hours a day/ 6-7 days a week), but the payment they get is far from fair ($100-$300 per month). The 2020 Fashion Transparency Index found that only 5 of the 250 large brands surveyed (2%) “publish a time-bound, measurable roadmap or strategy for how they will achieve a living wage for all workers across their supply chains.” Long story short, for most mainstream brands, there is no accountability in place to ensure that everyone in their supply chain is being treated fairly. And unfortunately, most of these brands do not care enough to do anything about it.
Who are these brands, you ask?? It is safe to say that almost any brand that is not Fair Trade Certified, handmade, or transparent about their supply chain, is operating unethically. Companies like Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Victoria’s Secret, H&M, Nike, Nestle, and Disney are just a few among the multitude of unethical brands. There are many resources out there to verify whether or not your favorite brands are produced ethically: Fashion Checker, Good on You & The Honest Consumer.
What is being done, you say?? Check out our next blog to learn about Fair Trade and ethical practices being implemented in the fashion industry.