Fashion is fun. Or at least, it’s supposed to be. We rarely think about it beyond its ability to make us look cute, and there’s nothing more relaxing than going out for a shopping spree and indulging our inner diva for a while. We’ll browse, we’ll buy, and then we’ll wear garments without a care in the world, completely unaware that fashion has a dark side that consumers are rarely exposed to. After all, if you knew what it took to put that pretty little dress inside your closet, you might be less inclined to spend your hard-earned money.
Companies count on that—your lack of awareness. They cash in on it every day, and it takes a conscientious, smart consumer to know exactly where their fashion comes from. If this is the kind of person you want to become, a person who knows the intricacies of how garments are produced and only wears ethically-made clothing, here are some of the things you need to be aware of.
The fur coat on your shoulders might look completely fabulous, but its luster is somewhat diminished when you remember that a lot of animals had to be slaughtered for you to get it. Animals are usually kept in inhumane conditions without food and water in very cramped pens, and they are killed by dozens at a time for their skin and fur. A lot of these creatures die from exposure or starvation before they even reach their turn for slaughter.
Leather, fur coats, and even certain types of wool are usually a product of cruelty and disregard for living beings, and there are so many replacement materials that this kind of fashion is completely unnecessary. Try switching to vegan leather, or simply wear more sustainable garments made of hemp, organic cotton, and bamboo.
Most of the big chain store fashion brands have outsourced to developing countries. It’s cheaper for them to find people they don’t have to pay much for their work, and given that the same laws and ethical standards don’t apply there, brands are able to exploit workers with ease. From very poor working conditions to wages that barely cover basic needs, sweatshop labor is a big problem in fashion. Avoid fast fashion and try to stick to brands that have an ethical chain of supply and that pay their workers fairly.
Impact on the environment
Plain cotton makes for a nice shirt, but the plant is notoriously unsustainable to grow. Not only does it require a lot of water and a huge amount of pesticides, but it also needs a lot of room and growing it tends to damage the soil. Instead of wearing chemical-filled fabrics that damage your skin and immune system, opt for materials such as hemp, organically-grown cotton, and most of all, bamboo. You won’t be sacrificing style nor comfort because all of these can be turned into incredibly soft, breathable garments, and you can find anything from sexy g-string underwear, to plain tees and pants for your everyday chic looks. Buying clothes doesn’t have to be good only for you—it can be good for the planet as well.
Steps being taken
Despite all of these realities, not everything is bleak. Consumers are slowly becoming more conscious about what kind of an impact they make on the environment, and both fashion and beauty industry are embracing everything organic, natural, and sustainably made. Predictions say we’re looking at a higher instance of recyclable, biodegradable, and high-quality fabrics made in the future, and fashion must become more compassionate towards humans, animals, and eco-systems if it has any hopes of surviving.
What can you do?
Vote with your dollar. Protest, spread awareness about what you’ve learned, but most of all, use your own money wisely. If you don’t support the way a company conducts their business, don’t buy for them, and don’t get sucked into the world of obsessive consumerism and the constant need to own more new things, regardless of the cost it may have on the planet (and your wallet). If you don’t give your hard-earned cash to unworthy brands, then they’ll no longer thrive and we’ll make more room for those who are willing to be ethical and conscientious.
It’s important to do your own research about these things. Becoming well-informed and knowing exactly what you’re buying and what kind of impact it has is the first step to becoming a very smart consumer who can’t easily be fooled.
About the author:
Mia Taylor is a fashion and beauty enthusiast from Sydney and writer for www.highstylife.com. She loves writing about her life experiences. Travelling and enjoying other cultures and their food with her husband is a big part of her life. She is always on the lookout for new trends in fashion and beauty, and considers herself an expert when it comes to lifestyle tips.
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