Living in a Western country, it’s easy to forget about the disasters, the violence, and the abuse happening all over the planet.
And what’s even more uncomfortable, is the realization that we are all, consciously or not, supporting the system which continually contributes to the violation of human rights. This is exactly what has been happening in the fashion industry, and it’s been happening for a long time now. But how do we know what to do about it? We all have voices so why aren’t we speaking out more about it? We as the younger generation finally can possibly change things for the better and it’s all about using our voices.
Remember the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in Bangladesh? On that day 1,134 workers were killed and 2,500 injured, but the devastating event was quickly forgotten by many. We were all shocked when it happened, but us being busy mom’s and dad’s working and having our own lives, that became a distant memory. But that disaster change the industry, protect workers’ rights and livelihoods, and to make fashion a force for good. Fashion affects all of our lives and modern technology means that it’s far easier to buy than ever before. With the click of a button we can have clothing arrive at our doorstep within 24 hours and although this makes life more convenient for the majority, it is making a large separation that now exists between those who produce fashion and those who purchase it. It has well and truly become a global industry which entails the employment of workers in many different countries side-by-side with human rights abuses, all for just a single garment that we ‘have’ to wear to ‘that‘ party.
Despite all of the dark, horrible things happening in the industry, the part we are exposed to is the more glamorous side. The fashion shows and the magazines tell us exactly what we need to buy every single season, a never-ending amount of clothes to purchase to keep up with the latest trends – constantly being shoved down our throats. It’s hard to avoid this pressure when it surrounds us constantly – constant marketing tempting us to make the latest purchase. We have to get real and see that the truth is: all of this is being paid for, not only by us as individuals, but also with our planet’s natural resources and human lives.
It’s not only adults dying for the clothes we wear but children are just as affected, sometimes worse. There is a sad realization that we have a staggering double standard, in that we find child labour to be absolutely unacceptable in this country and yet we buy fashion produced by children. Our generation, has the responsibility to protect the next generation of youth in the world. We must make our voices heard, regarding what we think and know is acceptable business practice and what is not. Our generation has the power to demand this and this power lies not only with our voices but with our purchasing decisions, too. In times when it can be frustrating not knowing what to do about the fashion wrongs, it becomes more evident that as the fashion industry grows bigger, the answers get clearer.
By only buying ethical fashion or second-hand clothing, we turn our back on fashion that has blood on its hands. When and if big corporations and fast fashion realize how big of a deal this is to us, they will one day have no choice but to make the changes that we want, because we are the ones who hold the purchasing power. We, are the targets of their marketing ploys, and if we are buying sensibly or refusing to buy into fast fashion at all, then they can’t possibly win this battle.
So we need to be loud and clear not only for ourselves but also for our younger generation. I want you too look at your children and think what it would be like for them if they were in those third world countries working 12 hour days making that shirt or other article of clothing that the fashion industry makes you believe you need. I don’t wish that on any child in this world, and neither should you. Just because you don’t see it in front of your face, doesn’t mean its not happening or that you should pretend its not happening somewhere else.