Jonne – co-founder of Go Frank – dreams of a fair world for all. But her dreams are rudely awakened by today’s fashion industry. In this new series of articles, she will explain in depth about their crimes, and about the possible antidotes. This first article introduces some of the most pressing issues.
I like to imagine a world in which everybody has enough food to feed their children. A world where people can live and work with dignity. A world in which there is no slavery, child labour or any other human rights violations happening in the production of the things I like so much.
But, as much as I like this picture of the world, it is far from reality. For the clothes that we wear – the new t-shirts, summer dresses and fresh sneakers that we buy – its manufacturers bear rough hardships. The fast fashion industry is characterized by a crazy workload with inhumane targets*, long working hours (a workday of 12 hours is no exception) and extremely low wages (even when a minimum wage is paid, this covers often not even 20% of a family’s living costs). Additionally, workers often must work in factories that are unhealthy and unsafe. In 2013 an entire building collapsed in Dhaka when thousands of workers were trapped inside. This resulted in over 1100 deaths. Not to mention the various forms of forced labour and other horrible practices.
Not only workers have to suffer for our greed to fashion. The environment does not remain unharmed either. The fashion industry is often mentioned as the second most polluting industry, right after oil. And even though the numbers are hard to calculate and there’s different lists in circulation, it shows the gravity of the problem. Use of chemicals, extensive water use, emissions for production and transport and massive textile landfill all add to global warming and environmental pollution.
“Buy less, choose well, make it last.” – Vivienne Westwood
So this is the sad side of the story. You have probably heard this story at least once before. Which leaves us to the important question: how can we stop this? How can we have a positive effect, or at least reduce our own negative effect?
Well. One important aspect is to be critical about the clothes we buy. As mentioned before, it is mainly the fast fashion companies that fuel the bad conditions of the garment industry. They try to produce as much as possible, as quickly as possible and as cheaply as possible. They even reduce the quality of their clothes, to ensure we keep on buying. Instead we need to buy less, only buying clothes which are made by workers who receive a fair payment and produced with respect for the environment. In other words, high quality slow fashion – that will last.
In the coming articles, we will explain more about the wrongdoings of the fast fashion industry and how other brands try to tackle these issues with their productions. Because I still believe it is possible for my – sadly imagined – beautiful world to become reality. One day.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”
Want to learn more about the way our fast fashion is produced? Watch the True Cost documentary on Netflix!