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?

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 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

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?

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?

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

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 21:15:53

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!

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.

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

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 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

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....!

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

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

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!

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