Do you ever consider the "real cost" of fast fashion?

(139 Posts)
ujjayi Fri 22-Mar-13 18:32:13

I love a bargain but have recently started wondering about the practices in the entire process of garment production which allow us to buy into fast fashion.

I been reading Naked Fashion by Safia Minney (founder of People Tree) and I really don't know if I can ever buy cheap clothes, or even certain not so cheap brands, again. Lots of brands claim to have a clear conscience but often they are only making that statement based on the "making up" factory experience and not the entire supply chain - dyeing and weaving for example.

How much consideration do you give to the ethical status of the brands you buy?

FrugalFashionista Mon 25-Mar-13 10:02:10

If anyone wants a bit of an expose on the flower trade, watch the excellent American/Colombian indie film 'Maria Full of Grace'. I guarantee a bunch of roses will never feel the same again grin

Yellow thanks for the hierarchy, v useful!

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Sun 24-Mar-13 23:00:59

I put a grin? Why flowers? They better be fair trade flowers on this thread!

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Sun 24-Mar-13 23:00:16

The hierarchy is:

1) reduce so don't buy anything
2) reuse so buy 2ndhand or repurpose
3) recycle so buy something made from used materials
4) buy sustainable/ethical
5) buy other

So yes buying secondhand high street is better than new ethical as no raw materials used. And yes, the original purchaser carries the stain of the garment production processes on their soul so you are safe grin .

Unless you specifically want to create work/money for a particular person or group of people which introduces a whole load of other complex factors....!

scottishmummy Sun 24-Mar-13 22:57:35

I think you mean you disagree with content,because others understood and responded
I'm not defined by what I buy,and I'm not perturbed by his fashion is produced
if someone buys over priced Eco clothes they are still a consumer,just consuming non high st

babysaurus Sun 24-Mar-13 22:48:56

This, apart from ScottishMummys often badly written rants, has been very interesting. I am becoming more and more mindful of where stuff comes from, not just clothes, and personally (and admittedly due to buying and discovering for myself) don't shop in Primark / H&M as its often cheap and nasty as well as the more serious consideration of why it is so cheap. However, I do often buy from the mid range shops on the high street and it seems these can often be as bad, ethically at least.
confused

scottishmummy Sun 24-Mar-13 21:33:41

I like a bit of consumerism spending,because I can.^because I want to^
Growing up had Tat,and scraped by.it's nice to not do that now
I don't feel in any way bad about my choices or spending

FrugalFashionista Sun 24-Mar-13 21:29:56

I believe in baby steps. Trying to restrict the amount of trash I produce, recycle when I can, curb my inherently consumerist impulses ( grin ). But I'm not a huge believer in organic food (long story). An overly black and white attitude can make change impossible. Small changes - if everyone does something - have a cumulative effect, and I believe in this. (Middle-class do-gooders have managed to abolish slavery, end child labor, provide sanitation and healthcare in many countries... wouldn't dismiss them quite so quickly.) I can live with an unethical needle or zipper - you have to start with something. Maybe the zipper producers are next in line wink

I'm trying to simplify my life also for purely selfish motives. I do not want my house and life be taken over by worthless junk. Climate change is not going to make my life easier. I also live in a society where true poverty is present and visible. I cannot change everyone's lives, but I feel that the time of crass consumerism and exploitation should be over. Hope so, anyway.

ujjayi Sun 24-Mar-13 21:15:53

Peacefuleasyfeeling - I had a conversation yesterday about the ethics of buying second hand clothing from non-ethical companies. I think somebody here already said they felt it was better to buy anything second hand than brand new - even if the brand new item is ethical. It's surely less wasteful & greener to recycle & reuse? I am happy to be corrected on this point!

scottishmummy Sun 24-Mar-13 21:15:42

I do buy organic food,organic milk but. Don't go on about it though it's non issue
Buy starbucks,shop amazon,Happy meals occasionally for kids,and high st a go -go
On basis of links in this thread won't buy Eco-clothes though

ujjayi Sun 24-Mar-13 21:10:32

That's a really good point Queen. For me, I do try buying as much local produce as possible, already buy eco cleaning stuff but cannot claim to be entirely ethical in my day to day life. I suppose it makes me a hypocrit but as with many things I guess we have to pick our battles.

The whole point of the thread was debate rather than preaching so I'm glad to see so many contributions smile

QueenCadbury Sun 24-Mar-13 20:59:25

Discussions like this and the frugal thread have certainly got me thinking whereas even a few days ago I wouldn't have given a second thought where my clothing came from. But where do draw the line? If you buy ethical/fair trade clothing then what everything else? Food, household goods (cleaning products, loo paper etc), toys, electrical goods, cars, everything really.

I'm not meaning to start further arguments but I'm genuinely curious if those that buy ethical/fair trade clothing apply it to all aspects of life?

peacefuleasyfeeling Sun 24-Mar-13 18:45:45

I'm totally on a budget for clothes and haven't bought anything new for myself or DD for years. Even when I earned a lovely FT salary I was wary of unethical practice in the high street and was pleased to have my choices informed by this concern. Now, I shop on eBay or from charity shops and nearly new sales (for DD) when necessary. Perhaps I labour under the illusion that the fact that my purchases are second hand (who knows, perhaps even 3rd?), absolves me from any blame for unethical practice, and therefore I don't pay much attention to the ethical record of the brands I tend to favour. Perhaps I ought to?

scottishmummy Sun 24-Mar-13 18:16:19

I'm not necessarily a brand follower and I wouldn't buy solely on ethical basis
I see I buy.simple as that.I've not liked any of the Eco links clothes posted
All the clothes posted have a look,kind of right on chic.too flowy for me

ujjayi Sun 24-Mar-13 18:09:21

Thanks to everyone who has posted links. It does seem that there is a massive gap in the market for an affordable, sustainable & sweatshop free high street range. The pricing issue makes it appear an elitist privilege rather than a consumer right for all and I fully take that on board.

Part of the issue I guess is that raw materials are so expensive. Organic cotton is around £12-15 a metre at retail price. Obviously large scale wholesale would be more competitively priced but then labour costs, export/import charges etc. soon start piling up and you can see why a fair price for the maker becomes a less than competitive price for us as consumers.

Also it seems to me that there isn't a "one size fits all" ethical store - People Tree may use women's cooperatives and social enterprises in India to produce garments but what about the carbon footprint of getting the stuff here to the UK? Do they also use fair trade needles, threads, fastenings, machines etc?

Also I would love to see more British made clothing. Am I mistaken in thinking the UK used to have a sizeable textiles industry?

For those of you like ScottishMummy who are unimpressed with the ethical ranges.....what styles/brands would you buy into if they had ethical ranges? I do think there is an image associated with fair trade and it isn't always very flattering!!

scottishmummy Sun 24-Mar-13 17:36:28

Ok,so let's see.you've posted I doth protest too much,I'm angry,defensive,and going on
Presumably you on other hand have been measured,objective and polite to me?
I do wonder why you're so snippy about this.

There's a fair bit of snobbery surrounding issues of ethical clothing, so wondered if this was the reason why? If so, i can see why it would irritate.

Oddly, i had initially agreed with you and understood your viewpoint, but was curious as to why you keep defending it. Nobody attacked it, and i certainly did not dismiss you in any way. I said you seemed angry, i of course could be wrong.

There is no name-calling. But i do apologize for that last sweatshop comment, i was feeling a bit naughtysmile

Look, if i sense you might be angry, this in no way means i disagree with you. Does that make sense? I simply wanted to know 'why'.

scottishmummy Sun 24-Mar-13 17:03:54

Infact it's you teacakes who is v vexed,and resorting to namecalling
Clearly your pov matters to you,just as mine matters to me
And as consumers we can both chose where,and from whom we buy our clothes

scottishmummy Sun 24-Mar-13 16:59:23

You seem to want to read posts that reaffirm your pov,but dismiss mine as angry?
Why is it so intolerable for you?I haven't counted use of word ethical,but it's popped up
I wouldnt ask anyone to refrain from a pov or word because they already said it. But you ask this of me?

Scottishmummy, i was saying that i understood your point and wondered why it needed to be repeated so much, unless someone was challenging it, then it would make sense.

Just calling something capitalism does not mean that we should automatically relinquish responsibility or awareness.

And yes, you do seem very angry and defensive. If your own children aren't sweating over a machine 12 hours a day to make the clothes, you've nothing to stress about, right?

scottishmummy Sun 24-Mar-13 16:41:28

IMO,the fisher clothes are ghastly bit shapeless and Unappealing
do look Like would be worn by wealthy worthy Verrucas and lady mustache types
but hey ho,clearly they do sell

scottishmummy Sun 24-Mar-13 16:30:34

As I said as consumer one choses where,how one spends ones money,part of capitalism
Exerting preferences through spending.choosing a retailer based on own prefernce
Op clearly has preference for ethical retail,asked if others do too?not my primary reason to purchase

FrugalFashionista Sun 24-Mar-13 16:24:41

Scottishmum as a consumer, I tend to choose 2nd hand charity shop over new from supermarket, mostly because I can find good fibers and really stylish clothes in charity shops and at the recycling center. I've done my share of supermarket shopping when my income was extremely limited, but I never really liked those clothes. As consumers, I think we have divergent sets of buying criteria - it's not a one size fits all process.

My friend mentioned another recommended source of ethically produced clothes - Eileen Fisher. Very pricey but according to her they last for ever and are timeless.

scottishmummy Sun 24-Mar-13 16:17:16

You thought I'm angry so you do wee dig about doth protest?how odd
angry does that mean we disagree?well that's point of a thread range of opinion
This is essential how individual choses to spend their money and choices we support

Also, whilst I am not a huge fan of high street stuff, I must say a few things in its defense.
Most of the more ethical stores don't have actual...stores. Or they are not appearing on the regular high street outside of city centers. Buying online is a pain in the rear for the best part, and I've found that a lot of the higher end stuff is just as badly fitting as the cheaper stuff. So, shopping the high street makes complete sense for those who are budget conscious, pushed for time and simply want to clothe a family with kids who are still growing. Who wants to pay an arm and a leg to clothe a 3 yr old?

So i get it, completely. Higher end stores are frequently overpriced and the blogging sphere which surrounds them can often seem a bit more concerned about prestige (and flashing an image) than actual ethics. There is a lot of hypocrisy out there. I know one lady who quit shopping at Office for shoes under the presumption that a pair of £400 boots with a designer label attached were inherently 'more ethical'. I say bollocks to that.

Still, I prefer to seek a middle ground, but only because I can.
Many simply can't.

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