Fashion's meangirls are here!
We’ve all heard the solid arguments against fast fashion brands like H&M, Zara and Mango: they create environmental crises by offering fashion that’s so cheap, it’s practically disposable. The reason that fashion can be had for such a low cost is because the garment workers making it are paid a pittance.
But guess what? The likes of Zara have been knocked off their perches by newer online brands that can design a product and have it on sale in as little as a week, according to research by Fung Global Retail & Technology.
Ok, sure – the big, bad high street ‘wolves’, H&M, Zara and Mango, are pretty bad, too. However, due to public pressure, they’ve tried to clean up their acts with green initiatives like Zara’s “Join Life” sustainable collection or H&M’s conscious collections – and let’s not forget Mango’s sustainable line, ‘Committed’, which launched February this year. These efforts cannot be completely overlooked, and there are far more steps these retailers have taken to be more sustainable, such as instigating clothing recycling programs, eliminating fur, ensuring all cosmetics are not tested on animals, and more.
The new, nastier retailers couldn’t care less about ethics. They’re using social media and influencers like the Jenner and Hadid sisters to keep on top of trends; they’ve streamlined their supply chains and moved production closer to key markets, allowing them to fast forward the design and manufacturing process.
But the consequences of this acceleration of what is already fast fashion are disastrous – think further ecological destruction, even lower wages for workers, animal cruelty, and more mindless consumerism, now available 24/7 at the click of a mouse. Here’s what you need to know about the nastier fast fashion brands – and what you can do to slow them down.
Why Boohoo should be booed
Boohoo may look pretty on the billboards, but it’s a whole other story behind the scenes. The brand has had staggering growth in the past few years, especially after it bought up fast fashion retailers PrettyLittleThing and Nasty gal. Many of the brand’s labels state their products are made in the UK or EU, which is usually an indication of ethical labor practices, given the EU’s minimum wage and other labour protection laws. But as Channel 4’s investigative program, Dispatches, revealed, Boohoo is one of four fashion brands producing clothing in UK based sweatshops where workers are paid far less than the minimum wage. The brand claimed it was “unaware of that situation”. Hmm, they may want to check their employee’s pay stubs, then?
Employees also complained of horrid working conditions. They revealed that they would be reprimanded for being 1 minute late, checking the time, or even smiling. After three such ‘strikes’, they were fired. Boohoo denies such a policy, but several disgruntled employees have come forth to state their cases against the company.