Every day on my walk to and from work in Soho the evidence of the vastness of fast fashion culture is paraded in front of me. People carrying their full to bursting primark paper bags, from its flagship store, who I can only assume are completely ignorant to where their clothes have come from otherwise why would they support it?
I stopped shopping in primark about 1 year ago, it does not make sense for a garment to be sold so cheaply and still turning a profit. It makes me question the origin of those garments, who made them? How much were they paid? In what conditions? It is very difficult to trace a garment back to its production. This is due to most major companies subcontracting their labour. Essentially this is passing the buck of responsibility to provide fair pay and safe working conditions so that they can plead ignorant to any poor conditions further back in their supply chains. The average high street worker will be not even be paid the minimum wage for their country. Guidelines are stretched and unfair conditions are forced upon workers who are trapped often without safety regulations, job contracts or unions.
It is often the argument of large companies to say, ‘well at least we are giving them jobs’ or ‘they choose to work in a garment factory’ Both statements which are made to give comfort to the western consumer. However these workers do not work in these conditions out of choice but out of desperate need to feed their families, they have no alternative. Essentially they have their backs against the wall.
The more consumers that begin to really think about the origins of their clothes the more likely we are to create change. The simple act of questioning brands you buy from, can have an impact, if a brand is aware that their target market are concerned with ethical issues the brand is more likely to make these a priority too. Becoming more of a conscious consumer as an individual may only feel like you are one small person, but the more of us that really consider how and where we shop the more of a positive impact we will have and hopefully we will begin to see a change for the better.