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Whether or not you agree with this notion, you are not admitting one thing. That is, slavery still exists all over the world. We forget how privileged it is to discuss righting the wrongs of the past while so many still suffer. Moreover, millions of people in developed countries are unknowingly complicit in modern slavery.
How? fast fashion.
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is the term for making cheap, low-quality clothing available to consumers quickly and inexpensively. Have you ever ordered clothes online and received something completely different from the model? plus Do they feel like cardboard? That’s fast fashion.
With clickable pictures and incredible prices, I would be lying if I denied ever providing credit card information to questionable websites. However, when the parts arrived, they didn’t live up to expectations and fell apart after one wash.
what’s wrong with that?
In addition to poor quality, most fast fashion brands use forced or child labor. H&M has collaborated with a children’s factory in Myanmar where a 14-year-old has to work shifts over her 12 hours a day. Last year, the US launched an investigation into UK-based Boohoo over allegations of forced labor. In 2007, British newspapers reported that children as young as 10 were sewing clothes for Gap in New Delhi. Shein’s cotton has ties to the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where the Chinese government has committed crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims. Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, Gap, H&M and Victoria’s Secret have also been linked to forced Uyghur labor.
In addition to poor quality, most fast fashion brands use forced or child labor.
Even Zara has been accused of using slave labor, despite much higher prices. I was. The worker reportedly worked 16 to 18 hours a day, six to seven days a week, and was only paid about $150 a month. In 2013, another investigation alleged child labor and sweatshops at Zara’s Argentine factory.
According to the Global Slavery Index’s 2018 report, G20 countries import $127.7 billion worth of clothing, at risk of modern slavery in their supply chains, and account for 80% of global trade.
Child and forced labor in the fashion industry is just one form of modern-day slavery, and buying from these brands perpetuates the human rights violations that occur.
where to shop instead
It’s hard to see a list of retailers arrested for using forced labor. But don’t panic. You don’t have to change your entire wardrobe at once. Slowly moving away from these brands makes a difference, even if it just means replacing a few points a year with ethical alternatives.
Here are six options for starting the transition away from fast fashion.
Perhaps the best-known sustainable fashion brand, Madewell is the perfect blend of style and sustainability. Madewell is committed to responsible sourcing and forestry, animal welfare, chemical restrictions, and combating slavery and human trafficking. This probably contributes to the steeper price tag.
To combat slavery and human trafficking in its supply chain, the company conducts factory inspections, audits, training and remediation at the facilities that produce its goods.
Be on the lookout for sales, which are usually 30-60% off, or buy resale items on Thredup for even better deals. I personally love the perfect vintage jeans with their high rise and waist-enhancing fit. Plus, it’s very comfortable. For a looser fit, try straight-cut jeans.
Everlane is perfect for staples and layering. The style is similar to Madewell, but a little simpler. Prices are about the same as Madewell, but not slightly lower.
Everlane is committed to ethical factories and uses compliance audits to assess factors such as fair wages, reasonable hours and environmental impact. The high-quality materials used in our Grade A cashmere sweaters, Italian shoes and Peruvian Pima T-shirts ensure our products stand the test of time.
One of my favorite items is the Boxy Oxford Shirt. Layer high-cut jeans over a tank top for a super cute and comfortable weekend look.
Honest Basics are a great option for your staple wardrobe. Their creations are inexpensive and produced in ethical partner factories in Bangladesh and India that they visit to ensure sustainable standards. The factory is also checked against International Labor Organization standards by an independent body. Child labor, forced labor and excessive overtime are prohibited.
Plus, Honest Basics uses GOTS-certified organic cotton, ensuring the elimination of the most dangerous and carcinogenic chemicals in fabric manufacturing and sewing.
Their turtleneck jumper is a winter staple. Wear it alone, accent it with a fun necklace, or layer it under a printed blazer.
Harvest & Mill
Harvest & Mill’s products are 100% made in the USA and employ sustainable business practices. Their simple, neutral creations are affordable and made with fabrics spun from organic cotton grown on American farms and with a natural finish that is non-toxic, non-dyed, and non-bleached. We only work with small, independent American farms, factories, and factories that hire workers, use local services, and reinvest in their own communities.
All of their sewing is done in a family-owned factory within 15 miles of their California studio, with regular visits by the company to ensure working conditions are up to standard.
They have a 100% US-based supply chain, which helps ensure fair wages and a safe working environment. Their American roots also ensure that all contracts and warranties are legally enforceable.At very reasonable prices, Harvest & Mill is perfect for supporting your American business.
Harvest & Mill is a comfortable, ethical loungewear staple. I love their natural packs for weekend wear. These can definitely be worn as pajamas or lounging around the house, but paired with flannel and a beanie for a weekend shopping trip. It’s cute enough.
Toad & Co.
Toad & Co. has a wide range of style options from outdoor to office. They are committed to promoting fair labor practices and safe working conditions. They visit vendor facilities annually to ensure they meet ethical standards. All Toad & Co. clothing is made from eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton and hemp to minimize toxins and pollution.
The scouter corduroy jumper dress with a printed turtleneck is a trendy winter choice. A very flattering cue wrap dress is the way to go for work attire. As for outerwear, the Forester Pass Sherpa Parka will keep you warm all winter long.
Vetta can help you completely transform your wardrobe if you’re willing to spend a little more money upfront. Their Vetta capsule of him provides five pieces of him to create at least 30 costumes. Individual pieces are also available for purchase if you’re not ready to commit to a capsule.
Vetta fabrics are made in a family-owned New York City factory. Their sweaters are from their partner factory in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles factory is audited annually for social and environmental compliance. Vetta also has Fairtrade certified factories in India and Peru. These locations utilize non-profit organizations to provide employment opportunities for women, education, childcare and healthcare.
Which capsule you choose depends entirely on your style and where you want to wear it. I personally love the easygoing style of Tuscan he capsules.
You don’t have to throw out your entire wardrobe to get away from fast fashion. Buy a few investment pieces here and there to accumulate more ethically sourced clothing over time. I can’t even estimate how many Forever 21 shirts I’ve cycled through the years. Even small steps like this can help gradually mitigate the effects of the fast fashion slave trade and move us away from a consumer throwaway culture.
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