By : Alain Rostomyan( Journalist) & Trisha Bhardwaj(Editor)
August 23, 2020
Fast Fashion and the Victimhood of Wage Slavery
There is that old saying, usually attributed to Yves Saint Laurent: "Fashion fades, style is eternal".
Fast fashion brands may not design their own clothing to last but as artifacts of a peculiarly consumptive era , they will definitely become a better part of fossil record.When looking at large-scale issues rooted in unjust systems, few stick out quite as well as fast fashion. Fast fashion is a predominantly female industry that subjects numerous of its workers to wage slavery through sweatshops.These wage slaves face serious health risks through their labour in the unsafe and unlawful working prerequisites of unkept sweatshops. To understand what fast fashion does to its workers, it is important to first understand what fast fashion is in itself.
Fast fashion is the business model followed by many of the brands dominating the industry with the most important intention of mimicking trends, pumping clothes out, selling, and repeating in the fastest way possible. Fast fashion has strongly affected consumption rates of garments within the United States as well as other nations. This can be seen in the fact that the average American buys 68 articles of clothing per year as opposed to the 12 of 1980. Achieved through fast fashion’s use of sweatshops throughout Southern Asia, this shift was the mere result of exploiting the predominantly female roster with wage-slavery.
Wage slavery is a term that defines the income of a worker as an instant necessity for their livelihood.Fast fashion extorts poverty struck employees into working beneath them as improperly compensated wage slaves by imparting them with the ultimatum of either working for lengthy hours in dangerous prerequisites for an unlivable wage or not working at all. Fast fashion hires a predominantly female roster with over 80% of the workforce being made up of women. Fast fashion brands add to the unethicality through child labour with the employment of minors making up a chunk of their workforce. According to the International Labour Association, up to 170 million children work in child labour with a majority of them working in textiles and garments.Fast fashion brands are dominating the industry with the two renowned clothing retailers, H&M and Inditex (parent company of ZARA), making billions off underpaid and overworking wage-slaves labouring in dangerous and unkept factories.
Referred to as sweatshops, these factories house poor and inhumane working conditions whilst workers are paid unlivable wages.An example of the severity of these conditions would be the collapse of the Rana Plaza Factory in 2013. The collapse resulted in 1,134 fatalities and approximately 2,500 non-fatal injuries marking it as the worst industrial accident since the Bhopal Disaster of 1984. There have been multiple other industrial accidents regarding garment and textile production that have accumulated to hundreds of fatalities in Bangladesh alone.
Women work for numerous hours every week to a criminally low salary with some workers earning as little as $0.03 an hour. With this in mind, it is penetrable why a chunk of the workforce is made up of minors. Under these harsh conditions it becomes a necessity for the children to get involved so they can keep up for their family. The child labourers are subjected to the same victimhood of wage slavery as their families simply because of the unlivable salary. To make matters worse, Covid-19 adds to the complication with plenty orders cancelled and workers loosing their very little pay they were receiving , leaving families with already poverty-level incomes verging on starvation. With India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh being amongst the most infected, the countries leading global textile and garment production face the
consequences Covid-19 induced economic downturn.
Fast fashion is a toxic industry that utilises unethical sweatshops and enforce wage slavery, not to mention the devastating environmental effects. It is a need to unite under activism for the victims of the abusive system that targets poverty struck countries and its workers to wage slavery. Minimal steps such as simply purchasing less can greatly decrease both your carbon footprint and your support towards fast fashion. If possible, supporting locally owned shops and purchasing from non-fast fashion brands helps significantly. Spreading awareness, telling your friends and family about the harm of fast-fashion can have an enormous impact. Signing petitions, protesting, spreading awareness, and donating are all actions you can take to fight fast fashion. It is absolutely necessary that in the face of adversity and injustice, we unite and fight against corrupt and unethical systems plaguing our societies.