It’s an widely known fact that we have a vast problem with over consumption in the developed world. The fact that we even have a diagnosable condition for compulsive shopping is a distressing and telling attribute of our modern society. The simple truth is we are consuming more than we need and throwing away more than we have places to dispose. But on our recent trip to India we were shocked by the great work we found being done in the one fast fashion factory we toured. Although this is only one garment manufacturing facility, it challenged our assumptions on the evils of fast fashion, and here’s why.
1 | Finger Pointing Never Accomplished Anything
There have been many documentaries popping up about the manufacturing practices of the fashion industry and the story they're telling is super important. Yet, as much as we truly love the work they are producing, we can’t help but keep asking ourselves...so what’s your point? Documentaries do a fantastic job at raising the issues, but an awful job at passing the torch. Houston, we have a problem. If you have a soapbox. Use it well. Have a point.
2 | There’s Two Sides to Every Story
Consumers share part of the blame. All stories about the garment manufacturing practices of the fashion industry seem to have one thing in common, they are blaming H&M & Co. (the Zara, Wal-Mart, Forever 21’s of the world). But is it all their fault? The retailers make more, because let’s be honest, they need to grow profit to please stakeholders, but also because consumers keep buying. Consumers keep buying because they are inundated with marketing on a constant basis, pumping in more things they must go purchase to fulfill the life they wish they had. And the beat goes on… We must start focusing mass efforts on consumer awareness to begin reprioritizing their buying habits.
3 | They’re Not All Bad
We spent over an hour touring a garment factory outside of New Delhi that belongs to India’s largest manufacturing company. Rows and rows of state of the art sewing machines, embroidery machines, pattern cutters and more, suffice it to say, engineers are really freaking smart. It was the Willy Wonka Factory of garment manufacturing and it was fast fashion. We met with the children of the employees in their staff daycare. Learned about their sewing training centers in the slums. Discovered their dyeing process that only uses one glass of water to dye a pair of jeans as opposed to the 2,900 gallons for denim dyeing most statistics will tout as the reason fashion is evil. And guess what? They manufacture for H&M & Co. Yep. In fact, a huge chambray shirt order for Target was going through the lines as we toured the facility.
So while we are by no means endorsing fast fashion, and very genuinely believe we need to reprioritize our over-consuming society, we also believe there is a story not being told because it’s not a convenient truth. Not all fast fashion factories are bad. The issue with poorly treated garment workers needs to be addressed, but we all need to roll up our sleeves, dig in our heels, and get to work to move this issue forward. The good news? Together we can do it. Reach out to learn how we can make your brand ethical.