The people who make our clothes have become invisible. We don’t know who they are. We don’t see them. And just like that….BOOM!….we don’t think about them. They just aren’t up there in our long list of important stuff. We have other things to think about.
Consider everything you know about the industrial revolution in Victorian England: dangerous factories, workers forced to live in slums, abject poverty, abnormally low mortality rates, high levels of pollution. Those same conditions are now being experienced by an increasing number of countries throughout the world as retailers switch from buying products at fair prices to demanding cheaper products so they can make bigger profits or under-price to attract more customers. With each lower price poverty levels and the working conditions of the people who make our clothes deteriorate yet further.
Most clothes sold on the High Street and online share these features:
- made in a sweatshop and/or by trafficked slaves (usually female, often a child)
- made in unsafe working conditions
- pollute local drinking water
- cause cancerous smog
- end up in landfill
There are other issues that affect those in the west too: undersized and underage fashion models, model abuse, design theft, manipulative marketing, pollution caused by high volumes of clothing in landfill, and many more. Unfortunately the fashion industry has allowed itself to become mired in so many damaging practices that it will take years, possibly decades, to sort itself out.