Myth and facts about the slow fashion industry
As the name suggests, yes, slow fashion is all about getting you to press pause on your impulsive shopping habits. This practice will eventually slow down a thriving industry, however, this slow pace will only lead to a wholesome production. The reason for this can be seen in the practices incorporated by fast fashion manufacturers. A factory manufacturing goods with a fast turn over will always attempt to cut down costs leading to bigger and more attractive margins for the consumer. These “cut downs” are achieved through the hard-working factory employee who works under harsh conditions with little to nothing in basic facilities with less than the required minimum wage. In fact there have been well-known clothing and footwear brands that have been caught utilizing slave labour. The more accurate term used is “forced labour”. What is meant by forced labour is the overworking of employees with inadequate pay. When a factory undertakes a huge order it may seem to be providing jobs especially in developing countries yet this economical factor is only a mere façade as every corporate structure involved in fast fashion is made to ensure low margins.
So, you might be innocently shopping at your favourite store and you come across amazing discounts attempting to get rid of its existing stock in order to prepare for a new clothing line, you may not realise the corporate greed behind it. I too was one of them who felt such fast production aids many countries including ours. Yet at what cost are we willing to get a good bargain? Fast fashion has not only harmed our environment but it has harmed innocent workers trying to make a decent living. One should always remember every time you purchase an item of clothing which is sold in bulk at an unbelievably low rate, you should know that a heavy price has been paid to ensure such low margins.
Apart from the economical aspects, the fashion industry itself is a form of art which kills talent by its fast fashion frenzy. When a highly qualified designer is forced to create a clothing line every month or even every week this definitely has a heavy toll not only on the employees but on the designers themselves. Any artist requires time to create a master piece giving attention to detail from its fabric to the cut of the garment with focus on intricate patterns. Certain designers incorporate ancient weaving techniques which tend to continue the design artform itself. A designer is not just taught to make cloths, a fashion designer continues the craft which has been around for centuries. Such an art form cannot be maintained by meeting unreasonable deadlines and by over working human resources. Fast fashion is not only about destroying talent but leading to inhuman working conditions resulting in mental and physical ailments. Having multiple clothing lines being released every year can have a heavy emotional toll. We have heard of many well-known designers committing suicide due to the stress involved in producing a fashion line for every season. One could ask, am I contributing to this emotional torture by patronizing these fashions labels.
That is where slow fashion plays a vital role. Slow fashion promotes the art form itself. The talent and the quality of the production will only be visible by slowing down an industry that has grown too rapidly and has gone out of control. There is more at stake than an industry providing jobs. We as consumers can slow down the demand which will lead to better jobs and humane working conditions. Even though the corporate sector may not care too much about their human resources but they certainly will pay attention to how the consumer is standing up and insisting on a change. So, the next time you decide to go on an impulsive shopping spree pay attention to the detail and the quality of the garment keeping in mind the hardworking talent that has gone in to it.
Talia Weerakkody for Absolute