By Abigail Padgett
In today’s industry, fashion is an easy and overwhelmingly excessive commodity. Long gone are the days of American made threads, and just a single “Sunday Dress,” as my mother likes to call her childhood church outfit. Look around. There are more stores, more sites, more everything in regards to fashion. In America, and in developed countries for that matter, cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way people dress.
But the problem isn’t having only “American made.” That’s simply an era gone by (and ignorant of our global economy). The problem isn’t even having a lot of jeans, or sneakers, or faux fur coats, or whatever 15-minute trend people are into these days. Who doesn’t love having options? I know that I do. The problem arises from where these clothes are made, how they are produced, who makes them, and under what conditions.
I think a decent amount of people have become more aware of the seedy side of the global fashion industry. Celebrities such as Emma Watson are on a campaign to shed light on the disgusting conditions and underpayment of “sweatshop” employees, as well as inform how companies are getting their hands on commodities like cotton and other fundamental textiles. We hear stories or read articles about the child labor, and injuries, and toxic chemicals, but I would say that most people, myself included, will never truly know the extent of how despicable parts of this industry are.
And here’s the thing: I’m not trying to tell you to stop buying clothes from H&M, or Zara, or Urban Outfitters, or any of the many brands the utilize unethical practices to turn a profit. I’m not here to shove some opinion in your face about what you should and shouldn’t buy. And, I want you to know that you’re not a bad person if you keep shopping at these stores; I know that I will. In many cases, these sweatshops and factories are the only sources of income for a family. It’s not right, but this is all that’s available.
All I’m trying to say is if you have enough comfort and stability in your life to be able to sit in your own bed and read this article on a computer, while simultaneously online shopping, you should simply be aware. If you have enough privilege to be studying for an exam at Miami University, maybe you also have a responsibility to know that your Lululemon leggings were probably made under questionable ethical conditions. Most Americans don’t have the time or money to be ethical in their clothing purchases–that’s normal and expected. Most people don’t even have the luxury to care. Again, not surprising. I’m merely saying, be aware that there is a problem, and that there are genuine companies that do practice ethical sourcing.
If this subject is of any interest, I recommend reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion for more information. For purchasing options, click here.
For a list of ethically sourced clothing brands, click here.