In a world where everything is fast-paced, fashion is no exception. Shops proudly show off their new items, sale signs and racks, but harbouring behind a good sale is a dark truth: Slave labour exploitation and extensive destruction to the environment. Fast fashion is defined as the cheaply made, mass-produced replicas of celebrity trends and current fashion which is made affordable to the everyday person. What these 'everyday people' often don't realise, is that their bargain scorns vulnerable women and children across the globe.
In 2013, a clothing factory in Bangladesh was engulfed by flames which killed 112 and injured 100. Workers were all trapped inside or jumped out of windows in desperation. Shockingly, fire alarms were ignored by managers: A worker who tried to escape before the fire took hold of the building was stopped and by managers... “Nothing happened. The fire alarm had just gone out of order. Go back to work,'" they said. The workers quickly understood that there was a fire. They again ran for the exit point and found it locked from outside... It was too late. Left with no escape route, the workers quickly attempted to use the fire extinguishers. They were faulty. Yeamin, a surviving worker, said: "So these were meant just to impress the buyers or authority." No charges were made against the owners of the burnt-down factory and without justice, the crimes of exploitation and harsh working conditions will continue.
This is not a distant issue. 540+ women working in factories that supply for stores that we have in Tasmania have come forth to share their stories of physical and mental abuse daily. In one dispatch factory, a female bravely questioned wages and the cruel working conditions. She was punched and had her hair pulled while being threatened with awful slurs. Another worker was beaten by management for not meeting the expected quota of the day... “[My] batch supervisor came up behind me as I was working on the sewing machine, yelling, ‘You are not meeting your target production.’ He pulled me out of the chair and I fell to the floor. He hit me, including on my breasts. He pulled me up and then pushed me to the floor again [and] kicked me," she said. Many women do not come forth due to retaliation from their superiors: “When girls scold machine operators for touching them or grabbing them, they take revenge. Sometimes they give them machines that don’t function properly. Then they don’t come and repair it for a long time. After that, supervisors scold us for not meeting the target.”
We are not powerless to fighting against this issue. As consumers, our choices make a major impact. Here are small changes you can make to your shopping habits:
An app with love is Good On You. The platform allows customers to see where their favourite fashion brands sit on the ethical chart. We also love the website https://baptistworldaid.org.au... Challenge yourself to look up your five favourite stores today.
There are so many brands that use their merchandise to make a difference in the world. A brand we really value is Outland Denim.
Local op shops and second hand markets are an affordable option to fight fast fashion. Visit Facebook market places or apps like Depop to purchase from online sellers locally, nationally and internationally.
Make the most out of old clothes. Choose to repair holes, adjust lengths and fits, and refresh old styles. Storai, our seamstress at the Be Hers Sewing Centre, is extremely talented and can make your vision for your old clothes come true!
If there is a specific style of clothing you love, instead of purchasing from unethical brands, bring a sample and fabric to our sewing centre and Storai can copy the design and make a custom piece!
We can make a difference! By choosing to make informed shopping decisions we can reduce the power of unethical brands. Choose change today.