Hmm, I feel like spreading rage rather than joy with this post but I can’t help it after reading Lucy Siegel’s book: To die for-Is fashion wearing out the world?
I’ve got a cold relationship with fashion. I will never dress in a certain way just because it’s fashionable. I like buying good quality clothes, however I also I like a bargain from time to time so Primark was on the list for pj’s and plain t-shirts.
Well, after reading this book, watching a few documentaries and doing my own research online, I will definitely avoid some of the high-street retailers such as Primark or Gap. I’ve never really thought what goes behind this utter nonsense which is called fashion (and this comes from someone who used to have an Elle subscription for years). I actually felt annoyed of my ignorance while I was charmed by the fashion’s glamour or the cheap clothes’ prices..
We are wrapped up in such a consumerist and materialist veil that it’s very hard to open our eyes and see beyond it. We forgot to look inside ourselves, to cherish the Mother Nature, to respect Her and implicit to respect ourselves.
Reading this book, I found out about how hard and in what inhuman conditions other people work for our clothes. I found out about the sweat shops, the garment workers, about the fashion’s footprint and I am appalled and really sad that we have allowed this to happen.
Some facts from this book:
– In an experiment, 60 first year students at Northumbria University decided to spend a day in their own sewing room. They have set up a simulated version of a typical production line for T-shirts as in an export factory such as in Bangladesh. Using the same number of machines and having the same type of manufacturing conditions, they’ve managed to produce 95 T-shirts in seven and a half hours. The daily target for the workers in Bangladesh would be 900!
– Workers in a Cambodian factory said their normal working hours are 11 a day. However, in order to meet their targets, they are made to work even 20 hours a day. And this happens almost on a daily basis. And do you think they get any overtime pay? Hmmm
– The demand from high-street retailers for new stock is so high, the factories from India, Bangladesh, China, Cambodia etc enforce extremely demanding targets for its workers leading to long working hours, shocking working conditions and worst of all, child labour. If retailers, manufactures and also governments refuse to change a system that always wants more for less, these things will never change.
– ‘We have lost a number of activists, murdered in the course of their duties. Others have been dragged in chains behind cars and had threats made against their families. A lot of money is at stake here and life becomes cheap in such a desperate and greed-filled environment. Remember, above all, the money that is creating this desperation comes directly from the wallets of Western consumers.’ –Bhuwan Ribhu of the New Delhi-based Global March against Child Labour.
– There is an entire chapter dedicated to the holly cotton where the author exposes the hidden horrors involved in cultivating natural fibers, and I was extremely saddened to read about the child slave labour used in Uzbekistan cotton fields.
– According to the World Health Organisation, 20,000-40,000 cotton farm workers will die each year from handling dangerous chemical pesticides used in producing non-organic cotton.
and I could go on and on and on….
While reading this book I thought of my nan who used to make her own clothes and when she had to buy something, it had to be of a very good quality so it will last her longer. I actually have dresses made by her more than 40 years back which are in an excellent condition. And I’m so proud of this. I should take her as an example…it is possible to have good quality clothes even if you can’t afford spending a fortune. If you buy a hand knitted cardigan for example, that would cost you more than a machine made one, I can guarantee you it will last you much longer and in the long run, it will worth the money.
This is an excellent book with a thoroughly detailed research into the environmental footprints of fashion and I absolutely recommend it to everyone.