We all love high fashion brands, but most of us are not too fond of the prices. With this gap in consumers’ current versus desired states, large international corporations have come to the rescue. Within the last few decades, fast fashion retailers such and Zara and H&M have completely revamped the fashion industry. Now, consumers can buy the latest trendy and chic items at an affordable price. Amazing, right?! Well, not really.
Fast fashion retailers continuously face the heat through various lawsuits for human rights violations and inefficient supply chain practices. Take, for example, the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, killing over 1000 workers. In order to produce the high-demand of garments necessary, retailers often outsource producing to third-world countries without checking if proper labour codes and standards are in place. The reason why you can buy the latest trends at the cheapest prices is because half way across the world, workers are accepting unsafe and underpaid work. Think about that.
And we wish we could just stop there, but human rights legislation is not all that the fast fashion industry violates. The fast fashion industry also comes under fire for promoting over-consumption, and thus detrimentally impacting the environment. Despite the codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility practices put in place, these large multi-national corporations still engage in various legal violations.
Now, by no means are we implying that fast-fashion retailers are not trying to change their practices and habits. In 2013, H&M launched a recycling drive in order for consumers to drop off any clothes by any brand to avoid over shipping to landfills. Often, however, these positive PR initiatives are seen as inauthentic – a means to reconcile for past violations and lessen the impacts on profits for inevitable future lawsuits.
Love it or hate it, the fast fashion industry is continuing to grow, but not without continual legal issues arising around every corner. We love our fashion, but we’re not quite sure if this outweighs the harms that this industry has caused in terms of human rights and environmental law violations. What do you think?