Fast fashion and feminism should be part of the same conversation.
No, we’re most definitely not promoting the feminist slogans printed on fast fashion t-shirts made by underpaid female workers.
Let’s focus on the inequality hidden behind cheap price tags.
Why is fast fashion a feminist issue?
Fast fashion is unequivocally a feminist issue because it’s a system that mainly relies on the disempowerment and exploitation of female garment workers in developing countries.
In fact, 80% of them are young women aged between 18 and 25, mostly working 14 hours a day… for less than $3.
Brands by women, but not for women
Not only are these garment workers paid very little per piece, but they don’t usually receive compensation for maternity or sick leave as well as for overtime.
This means it’s impossible for them to become financially independent from men since they barely earn enough to cover the most basic necessities.
For example, female workers in Bangladesh earn the monthly equivalent of £45.
Sadly, the daily reality of women working in fast fashion factories also includes poor working conditions, sexual harassment, and physical abuse.
The need for transparency
Some fashion brands argue that they’re part of the solution since they create jobs in developing countries.
However, outsourcing garment production without regular checks is exactly what leads to modern slavery conditions.
When women don’t earn a living wage, they can’t invest in their career, education, and family.
Basically, fast fashion is a feminist issue because it keeps them trapped in a vicious cycle.
A feminist approach to fashion requires proper wages, safe working conditions, healthcare, and a working environment without sexual harassment, gender pay gaps, and discrimination.
For this to happen, we need brands to be held accountable and be transparent about their supply chain.
The irony of feminist fashion items produced in sweatshops
Just like some brands are sneakily good at greenwashing, some others exploit feminism to reinforce this cruel system.
For example, Beyoncé’s ‘feminist’ fashion brand Ivy Park has been called out for using sweatshops where female workers would only receive £4.30 a day and had to withstand 60-hour workweeks.
Same with a Spice Girls’ t-shirt: it was sold to raise money for the ‘Gender Justice’ campaign but made by female workers paid the equivalent of 35p per hour.
Sadly, feminist fashion garments made by underpaid women in sweatshops isn’t a rare case in fast fashion.
How you can help make fashion feminist
1. Learn the truth behind fast fashion
Be brave and discover the actual cost behind a £2 fast fashion t-shirt.
2. Ask brands #WhoMadeMyClothes
This hashtag is especially popular during Fashion Revolution Week, but holding fast fashion brands accountable throughout the rest of the year is also a good idea.
By asking them #WhoMadeMyClothes you’re giving them a chance to be transparent about their supply chain, and, if they’re not, to start looking into it.
3. Switch to ethical fashion as a feminist move
While so many big brands still rely on sweatshop-style factories, there are also tons of game-changers that have implemented a fairtrade system.
Their clothes are made by garment workers who are paid fair wages and guaranteed good working conditions. These brands are also transparent about their supply chain and perform regular checks.
Let’s support them!
Enough with clothes made by exploited women!
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