- Consumption of individual pieces of clothing has risen over 400% in the last twenty years. Your grandparents survived with far fewer new clothes - does the world really need over 80 billion new pieces of clothes each year now? Start breaking down the cost per wear of your clothing and take note. If a $77 shirt (like the Perfect Shirt!) is worn 80 times, but a $30 shirt is worn 7 times, what comes out ahead? Obviously there is value in the Perfect Shirt – it lasts longer, has a lower impact on our environment and gives back to the community. Not to mention you’re not driving to the mall every few weeks hunting for another shirt!
- Building on the extreme rise in consumption? Americans are now trashing about 70lbs of clothing per year. Not donating. Not repurposing. Not reselling. Sending to the landfill. These cheap, fast fashion clothes are often made of synthetic materials or coated in toxic chemicals to make them wrinkle resistant, etc. They will not decompose like natural fabrics, so they build up in landfills across the world. The fast fashion business model is designed to make you feel out of fashion every few weeks. Fast fashion is feeding the landfills to fill their pockets.
- Women around the world in developing nations have fewer employment choices and often must settle for unregulated and below minimum wage garment industry jobs. Most of these women are working for under $3/day. That’s less than $100/month even if they worked 7 days a week with no rest. Next time you marvel at how cheap your t-shirt is, remind yourself why. Ask yourself if you’d want to work 7 days a week for $100/month as you stand in the checkout line with that t-shirt.
- Another way fast fashion companies have driven costs down while keeping their profits high? Deplorable working conditions. In Dhaka, Bangladesh an eight story factory collapsed killing 1,135 people. Quickly and shoddily built in a swamp area, there were no precautions for worker safety or proper emergency exits. When the over-crowded building collapsed the western world was shocked for a few hours, and then happily forgot as they again marveled at the low prices of fast fashion.
- While child labor has fallen approximately 30% in the last decade, the International Labour Organisation estimates nearly 170 million children are currently working, against United Nations bylaws. While some are working in agriculture, many of these children are employed in the garment industry, making clothing for fast fashion labels adored by the western world. Current estimates say that nearly 11% of the children in the world are working full time. Was that button sewn on your shirt by tiny fingers? If it costs $4 there is a high likelihood the labor was cheap and underage.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement and surface beauty of fast fashion, but stopping to consider the dark side will change how it feels slipping into that $4 t-shirt next time. Slow changes can add up, and as you make more and more conscious decisions with your money companies will take note. When you purchase ethical fashion you send the message that you won’t stand for unethical practices.
At VIRTŪ we’re proud of our production process, and invite you to join the movement for positive change in the fashion world! We believe in living wages, we believe in safe conditions, we believe in protecting our environment, we believe in employing people of legal age: we believe in treating people with respect regardless of their geographical location. And if you believe the same, join our ethical fashion movement.