Will Our Love of Cheap Clothing Doom the Sustainable Fashion Movement?

TakePart, April 19, 2016, By Liz Dwyer

"It’s common sense that if you’re buying a pair of trendy $9 jeans at the mall, there’s a good chance they were made in an overseas sweatshop by poorly paid women or children. Yet a new survey reveals that saving a buck is what’s foremost in Americans’ minds.

An Associated Press–GFK poll released late last week found that when it comes to purchasing clothes, the majority of Americans prefer cheap prices over a “Made in the USA” label. The poll, inspired by campaign trail promises by presidential candidates to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., asked respondents to choose between two pairs of pants of the same fabric and design. The pair manufactured in the United States would set the shopper back $85, while the one sewn overseas would cost $50. A full 67 percent of respondents, regardless of household income, said they’d choose the cheaper pair of pants. ...

'Buying cheaply is a cultural deficiency that we can address with a common goal toward more sustainable practices,' Orsola de Castro, the U.K.-based cofounder and director of Fashion Revolution, wrote in an email to TakePart.

De Castro launched Fashion Revolution after the fatal 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. The horrific (and preventable) accident killed more than 1,000 people and injured around 2,500 more.

'It is absolutely about basic human rights wherever there is a fashion production. The fashion industry creates millions of jobs, everywhere,' wrote de Castro. 'It is about ensuring integrity: encouraging an industry that, wherever it decides to produce, treats its workers fairly, pays a living wage, ensures safety and dignity. Quality products made by people with a good quality of life.' ...

Both Degrassi and Vartan recommended The True Cost, a 2015 documentary revealing the often inhumane experiences of people around the globe who work in the garment industry. 'People who see The True Cost find themselves unable to participate in fast fashion—or [they] seriously question and redefine their shopping habits,' wrote Vartan. ..."


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"Truly eye-opening."
Julie Kosin, Harpers Bazaar