With Black Friday sales making clothes dirt cheap, or at least slightly reduced, I’ve been thinking about the price of fashion. High fashion labels can sell a t-shirt for $250, while fast fashion labels can sell a t-shirt for $1.50. Both of these are wrong.
High fashion labels charging an exorbitant amount for items often made in the same Chinese factories or Indian sweatshops as much lower priced brands is deception. Even more deceptive is when high fashion brands make almost all of a piece in one of these sweatshops, but then stitch on the handle of a purse in a renowned leather shop in Italy just so they can slap MADE IN ITALY in gold print on the bag. And yes, while sometimes you pay for higher quality, more often than not brand name goes before thread count.
Fast fashion labels selling clothes for pennies is just as wrong. We already know that they use sweatshops,taking advantage of undocumented immigrants and even trafficking victims, making them work in dangerous conditions where fires can and do break out (look up the Rana Plaza fire in 2013, where more than 100 people died.) This is before you consider the wages so low that they almost count for slavery. So what does a consumer who loves clothes and really loves shopping do?
Sustainability has recently been a big buzzword in fashion. But sustainability doesn’t come cheap. Brands that tout themselves as a more Earth-friendly option, such as Reformation, or sweatshop free and made in the USA, such as American Apparel, are understandably more expensive than H&M or ZARA. For some people, that extra twenty or thirty dollars for the same item they usually get at a fast fashion store is too much. If you’re on minimum wage and are trying to buy winter coats for your children, you’re going to go for the cheapest option.
Fashion needs to have a major change. One where people question the cost of what they’re buying, whether it’s $24 or $240. One where they question the cost of what it takes to make clothing. We have been conditioned to think that the price of fast fashion is normal. It’s simply not sustainable (there’s that buzzword again) to continue like this. But high fashion isn’t the answer.
A new subsection of fashion must emerge, where price is determined by quality and garment worker’s living wages are factored in to the price. The environment must be considered not only when producing clothes, but also when choosing factories to create them. A strong commitment to being truthful is not only a main concern, but a mantra.
This is already happening, and it is high time. I have so much hope for the industry, and more and more brands are filling this subsection.
Comment below your thoughts on this, and any sustainable brands you like. I want to know!