What’s wrong with your last summer haul?

Fashion

Here is a catchy title to make you read my article, not to blame anyone. Recently, I started to follow more fashion Instagrammers and this recent trend of filming ‘haul’ and promoting beauty brands made me questioned the world of Instagram/YouTube, and our way of consuming fashion.

It’s been a long time that I am aware of the unsustainability of the fashion industry. I like to shop stuffs but I’m not a big consumer, I still wear clothes from high school. And yes, I do buy from fast fashion brands: I bought a scarf at Primark last December and I’m not proud of it. What has changed then? Since I have a bigger audience than before on Instagram, I found out brands were willing to send me gifts such as clothes, perfumes or beauty products if I could share them in my stories or in a post. Honestly, the temptation to accept and move my account toward fashion and lifestyle rather than travel and food was huge. Who does not want to receive presents for free?

However, I decided not to because I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of pushing teenagers to consume more clothes than they need from affordable brands. I did not feel it would have been fair to support an unsustainable industry only for my own benefit.

Background

The fashion industry is always caught up with scandals: models reporting sexual assaults or abuses, brands selling size large that no one above 50 kilos could wear, countless brands accused of abuse and unfair wages in their factories, and so on.

A memorable one was  the collapse of the Rana Plaza, a garment factory in Bangladesh. Over 1,000 people were killed and had already reported their concerns about safety. Many affordable brands we all buy from times to times were producing their clothes there (The Guardian, 2016).

rana plaza

The problem is that brands (like many businesses) only look at numbers and completely forget the humans behind. I can already hear some voices: “they are cheaper because they reallocate to developing countries because the minimum wages are lower’. Do you really believe that lower wages by themselves  explain low prices for final customers?

Fashion brands always try to negotiate the best deal which results in unbearable working conditions for garment workers. Think about it. Factory owners accept those deals because they cannot afford to lose them. This pressure is directly reflected at the workplace (The True Cost, 2015).

As customers, we have the power to walk away from brands with the lowest prices to protect the environment and vulnerable human beings.

As a fashion blogger, you have the power to make the industry change. Are you really sure you want to accept the last collaboration offered  by a fast fashion brand? Use your voice to make a difference.

rei kawakubo

What’s wrong with the last haul you watched?

Shopping haul: most of the time videos which display large quantity of items recently purchased. And most of the pieces come from affordable retail brands with the worth reputation in terms of sustainability and human rights.

Yes, I am tired to see promocodes all over Instagram and I’m even more bothered by ‘Summer Haul’ because there is no ethical thinking behind.

#Disclaimer :  Getting paid to wear nice clothes, hard to say no! Plus, fashion influencers have to present many different outfits to make their subscribers happy. Hence, it is way easy to collaborate with big brands than spending  your weekend at the thrift shops.

Indeed, people and the environment all suffer as a result of the way fashion is made, sourced and consumed. Why do we think it is normal to go shopping every week, every month? Why are we so addicted to shopping?

Fast fashion is unsustainable

The way we consume clothing has changed a lot over the past 20-30 years too. We buy more clothes than we used to and spend less on them. A century ago, we spent more than half our money on food and clothes, today we spend less than a fifth. As a society we purchase 400% more clothing today than we did just 20 years ago.

‘Every time we buy something that costs less than we think it should, we are implicit in the impacts of that transaction‘ (Fashion Revolution, 2018).

  • 80 billion items of clothing are delivered out of factories annually worldwide.
  • It takes 2720 litres of water to make a t-shirt. That’s how much we normally drink over a period of 3 years.
  • Fast fashion brands put out new collections every week or month to make it seem like your wardrobe is all off trend. This is the reason you sit and stare at your full wardrobe thinking you have nothing to wear.
  • It takes 200 gallon of water to make a pair of trousers. This is the equivalent of 285 showers.
  • The average American through away about 80 euros of clothing, shoes, and other household textile every year.
  • 95% of discard clothing could have been recycled.
  • Only 10% of the clothes people donate to thrift stores or charities get sold, the rest goes to landfill.
  • One-in-six people work in the global fashion industry.
  • The US spend an estimated $2.6 billion on Halloween costumes every year: worn for one night only.

The facts and the numbers are disgusting. Is it really something you want to be part of?

What can we do?

Fortunately, some of the leading fashion businesses are launching sustainability initiatives, both for environmental concern and commercial opportunity. Indeed sustainability is a criterion that influences the purchasing choices of millennial (Business of fashion, 2017). For example, H&M is trying to reduce its carbon footprint and to use only recycled or sustainably sources materials in its products (H&M, 2017).

This is definitely a cool initiative that deserves to be encouraged. But I don’t think it’s fair to praise them too much. Fashion has always been their core business and it’s sad that they only started to care about the environment in 2017. Only time will tell if they can stick to their commitments and what sort of impact they can have.

Last week, it was the ‘Fashion Revolution Week’ and I discovered an NGO called ‘Fashion Revolution’.  The movement is calling for a fairer, safer,cleaner, and more transparent fashion industry and make it easy for customers to get involved. How can you help spread the word?

  1. If you would like to learn more, check out this website: fashionrevolution.org or follow fash_rev on Instagram.
  2. If you are a Youtuber, you can join the ‘alternative haul’ initiative: a way of refreshing your wardrobe without buying new clothes ( from shopping second hand, swapping with a friend, etc.)
  3. On social media, you can use the hashtag #whomademyclothes to ask fashion labels.
  4. Don’t buy new items, reuse those you haven’t wear for a long time, look after sustainable fashion labels, and visit second-hand shops.
  5. Remember fashion and style are two different things.

Sources

Haul Alternative

fashion revolution