When I was a child my Father bought children’s clothes for a large retailer. Twice a year he would go to Montreal to look at the new season’s offerings. You bought clothes for spring/summer and fall/winter, that was it. These days most of the big name fashion designers show Spring/Summer, Resort, Pre-Fall, and Fall/Winter. Some also show at Paris Couture Week, and participate in capsule collections, and brand collaborations either with artists, other brands, other designers, or major influencers. Fast fashion, moving at break neck speed, is churning out 52 micro seasons every year. The idea of buying clothes from one fashion season, which would be worn for 6 months, before thinking about any new clothes has been eliminated. Dealers of fast fashion want consumers to buy as many garments as possible as quickly as possible. Big name fast fashion retailers are making clothes in enormous quantities, lowering the prices and counting on volume sales to make their bottom line. The lower they price their goods means lower quality of the goods. The lower they pay for fabric means lower wages they pay their workers, but higher profits for the shareholders. Last Monday was the fourth year anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh where 1,137 workers were confirmed dead and a year after 200 remained missing. These were mostly young women sewing fast fashion items to make enough money to help feed their families. Their standard shift was 13 to 14 ½ hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:30 p.m., working 90 to 100 hours a week with just two days off a month. Young “helpers” earned 12 cents an hour, while “junior operators” took home 22 cents an hour, $10.56 a week, and senior sewers received 24 cents an hour, $12.48 a week.
What can we do? FashionRevolution.org is creating a movement asking “what is the true cost of our clothes?” They say on their website “Much of the global fashion industry is opaque, exploitative and environmentally damaging and desperately needs revolutionary change. We love fashion, but we don’t want our clothes to come at the cost of people or our planet.” “Fashion Revolution is a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. We want to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, so that what the world wears has been made in a safe, clean and fair way”. “Fashion Revolution Week is our #whomademyclothes campaign to encourage millions of people to ask brands ‘Who made my clothes’ and demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain”.
When I make your clothes I know where the fabric comes from and in most cases now, it is an eco fabric. What I am trying to do with my fashion line is go back to the old philosophy of buying an item of clothing that is going to last. It must have good craftsmanship, excellent fabrics and a style that will endure the seasons.