Eco- and Social -Conscious Fashion
By Alice Maltais
Until 1960, 95 percent of our clothes were made in America. Today, only 3 percent is produced here, and the remaining 97 percent is produced abroad in developing countries.
Countries like China and Bangladesh are two of the main fashion exporters. Not long ago, people would attend a fashion show and have a look at the upcoming seasons several weeks in advance. Now, the design and production cycle has greatly accelerated. This is called fast fashion. Instead of 2 seasons a year, there are about 52 seasons ! The price has dropped but production has increased. Somehow, this has caused people to act as if the clothes are cheap enough to throw away without really thinking about it.
It creates a major issue in developing countries where people are in desperate needs of jobs: they don’t have other options. They are actually the ones who pay the price for cheap clothing. The average salary is about 2 to 3 dollars per day. Big tragedies happened these past years.
In 2013, a building collapsed in Bangladesh. Shockingly, the year after, the fashion industry had one of her most successful years. Workers had already pointed out the cracks and the lack of safety in the building. 85 percent of workers are women. The clothes are made from the women blood, literally. In the documentary the true cost of fashion, some women were sharing that when they tried to speak, the men would beat trying to make them silent and avoid any negative repercussions.
The problem is that when big companies come into play to make the deal with the owners, they often put a lot of pressure on them to be granted a production at cheap cost. The owner has no choice, but to say yes if he wants to keep his business in order.
Rich countries do not pay attention due to the fact that it does not have a direct impact on the life of their population. People needs to see the bigger picture of it all. Brands like H&M do cover the basics of eco-fashion. On the other hand, H&M is a fast fashion brand which means that there is still place for improvements.
Stella McCartney is a designer who incorporates eco-fashion into her designs. Her main argument is that women have a preconceived idea that eco-fashion can’t be as luxurious or glamorous. It can, but the thought process is more challenging for designers — women still have to desire the clothes. It can be done, people just need to take the first step which is awareness.
Sadly awareness happens often when a large group of people are taking actions towards a cause. The issue with fast fashion is that people do not pay attention because to them, it does not have any direct consequences on their daily lives and routine. When people eat something they immediately take care of their health for the main part because it has a direct impact that they can see immediately. But sadly the environment is changing and the population needs to see the bigger picture, for the future.
An easy way to begin is simply by shopping consciously and to look for brands that stand for eco-fashion and human rights.