Forever 21, H&M, Nike, ASOS, and even more expensive brands such as Zara and TopShop are a part of the fast fashion industry. Fast fashion is inexpensive, on trend clothes that use the ploy that “to be happy you need merchandise” for you to purchase their garments. The reason these clothes are so cheap, is because according to CNBC only 3% of clothes sold in the US are made in the US. The other 97% is made in developing countries such as Bangladesh, China, and India where the work environment is less than appealing. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world next to the oil industry. What these big brands are doing to the garment workers, consumers, and the environment is appalling and should be stopped.
In the developing countries the clothing is being made in, the women and children working are being paid sometimes fewer than $3 each day, forced to work in unsafe environments, and are exposed to harmful chemicals on a daily basis. They have to put up with the conditions because these are the only jobs available. In 2013 over 1,000 workers died at the Rana Plaza factory after it collapsed, and it brought attention to what was happening at these sweat shops. Yet when several of these brands decided to make an industry wide collaboration to improve factory safety, industry leaders Gap and Walmart refused.
Most Americans aren’t willing to spend more on clothes that are made in the US. This is because our culture expects us to always be on trend and have new things. Saving money on easily thrown away clothes, to spend on places like American Apparel that are made with quality and in the US, is a better alternative than only shopping for quantity. We think that these things are making us happier, but materialism often has been associated to anxiety, depression, and dissatisfaction in life. These companies are brainwashing us into materialism as a way of life.
According to the documentary “The True Cost,” 1 in every 6 people in the world works in the fashion industry, more than half working in vile sweat shops of third world countries. To fight the issue that is fast fashion, we can start by cutting down on our vast consumption of clothing weekly, buying clothes vintage or thrifted, avoiding trends, and when affordable buying garments at stores that make their clothing in the United States. Forcing these brands into making fewer clothes little by little is the only way to put an end to the tragedies that are happening around the world due to the fashion industry everyday.