I‘ve been waiting for this blog for a long time. I’ve been thinking what and how to communicate. It was obvious that the blog would be about fashion/clothing and social responsibility. But what should I start from? I think I should tell you why several years ago I came up the idea of sharing my findings with you particularly in these two fields. Let me start by saying that I have a weakness for clothes – especially for those of good quality. I like to think it’s because of my grandfather (my Dad’s father), who had a tailor’s shop in Torun many years ago. I also owe my grandmother (my Mum’s mother), who even at the age of 85 matched parts of her daily clothes in a very careful and considerate way and had sewn beautiful items of clothing for her children many years earlier.
There was an anniversary of Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh two days ago. I consider it an opportunity to ask myself about the social and environmental costs of the so called Fast Fashion and whether I mindlessly want to participate in its success. Do I want to remain silent and pretend that I do not notice the ill-treatment of the environment and workers who sew our clothes in appalling conditions and work for hunger wages under enormous time pressure? Moreover do I, the customer, want to be treated like an object?
Everyone perceives fashion in their own way. To be honest, shopping in global clothing brands have irritated me for several years – that’s why and I visit such stores occasionally.
Firstly, in almost all stores we find the same type of clothes: I mean the shape, form, pattern. In other words, if one season flowery tunics are in fashion, they are literally everywhere (in almost every single store). And it’s hard to buy anything else because in every store we are assured that this season the flowery tunic fits us best – although in most cases it is a blatant lie.
Secondly, most ready-to-wear clothes in chain stores are of low quality. I guess it is due to the deadly pace of production which strives to maximize profits and pays little attention to the quality of fabrics (because they are cheaper) and the quality of workmanship (because they can be sewn more quickly). ’Fashionable’ clothes intesively promoted by global brands are most often baggy blouses, oversize tunics or leggings. It’s one of the easiest forms to sew. You cut the fabric according to a not very sophisticated form, you sew it and … That’s it. Next please. There is no space for creating clothes that might emphasize your figure and show off its strengths. This is rather about fast business and a low-cost production of low-quality clothes. And most importantly, it is all done while ignoring human rights and environmental protection.
Poor quality of clothes is also connected with the strategy of dividing consumers into better and worse ones. It’s common that worse quality clothes are delivered to such countries as Poland. I sometimes visit some fashion global brands stores in London or Rome and clothes are of much better quality there than in Poland. The same brand, the same interior design of a shop but the quality of clothes is completely different.
Fourth, most of these clothes are not that cheap taking into account their quality and lack of originality. It would be great if more money the customers paid for them went to the people that produced them. Unfortunately, in most cases, the majority of income goes to companies and advertising agencies while the People – adults and children – who produce them at the end of the supply chain – work for poverty rates.
What I don’t like is the way customers are treated by being constantly told that they need more and more low quality clothes made in a sloppy way. Big companies are supported by the powerful marketing machine and prepare fashion ‘hits’ every season. Then we think that they are really something that we must have. And hola, hola … we must buy them but of course only for one season. Because in the next one our value will be designated by totally different things.
When many stores start to organise the race – ‘fishing for the customer by writing the label SALE on the display’ it often happens that clothes are put in a big container. These crumpled, colour-mixed clothes, bags, shoes etc. thrown into a container look like garbage in the trash. The garbage from the hyper-consumption world. I think it also expresses the relation of brands executives managers to these clothes. We customers are treated with disrespect. We are the ones who devour this mediocrity with flushed cheeks.
So what is Fast Fashion for me? The more I think of it I feel largely disdain, greed and short-sightedness of the people who manage most of the global clothing brands. It’s high time to check if we can wear fair …