and why I’ll never return to Zara.
I loved Zara. They had only one outlet in my city, which was 45 minutes away from my home, but that never stopped me. Only the best for this little airhead!
Then I took up a course on Sustainable Fashion taught by a few brilliant professors from prestigious universities in London and backed by Kering, a multinational French luxury group.
It is not an exaggeration when I say that I felt like my whole life was a lie once I got done with it. To make a long story short, I will never return to Zara, H&M, or any other fast-fashion brand again.
And although this is slightly far-fetched, I will shoot my shot at convincing you to do the same.
Let’s get into it.
It was the 1990’s and Zara had just opened in New York, causing a major stir due to the speed with which it brought catwalk designs close home and the incredibly low prices at which it sold them. The New York Times wrote about it and coined Zara’s production model “Fast-Fashion”.
And then, of course, other brands followed.
Fast-Fashion stands for temporary use. They don’t care if the dress wears out in two washes or is dyed with toxic carcinogenic dye. They just want to shove as many clothes in your face as possible and mint money.
Unfortunately, It has taken over the fashion scene completely and now creates as many as 52 “style seasons” yearly. There’s no more Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer seasons in fashion. Every week is fashion week, here at fast-fashion.
Most people don’t even know that the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter after oil.
The Value(less) Chain of A Fast Fashion Label:
To sum it up: Extremely talented designers closely monitor trends on Instagram and “what’s in” at Fashion shows, turn them into beautiful clothes and send them to the stores super quick.
Then they do some quick marketing and advertising. With the amount of money they make, this is a no-sweat job.
Cue the extremely stylish salespeople walking about the place with “Hi, how can I help” and they successfully have all the girls (and boys, of course) floored and practically handing out their hard-earned money to them.
To get such a vast amount of clothes on the floor every second day, they make their suppliers work very hard. Child labor, Slave labor, Violation of Fair-Trade policies, they’ve done it all.
They even made news multiple times, one of them being an investigation that discovered Syrian refugees working 12-hour days in a factory that was distressing jeans for Mango and Zara.
Istanbul workers hid tags with messages in the clothes manufactured for Zara, pleading with the company to give them their pay, as their boss went bankrupt and closed shutters overnight without paying the employees.
In case you’re not catching on, these brands are so ruthless that they don’t care who’s supplying their products and how they’re getting the work done -which they should- as long as they’re getting their order delivered.
If they ever get caught out, They always respond by saying super intelligent things like “This is serious and we’re looking into it”, “We’re committed to being a part of the joint efforts to find a solution for workers” etc. But let’s be real. What do these fast-fashion companies care?
(Superficial) Sustainability Efforts
Have you ever heard of the term “Green-washing”?
It’s a form of marketing and PR where companies trick the public into believing that it’s doing good for the environment with its products or sustainable campaigns when it’s doing just the opposite. Yes, they try to fool us.
Most of these labels have one or more sustainable ventures that are highly advertised. The good that comes out of these campaigns is as good as non-existent because here’s the thing. Their little sustainability efforts on-the-go don’t cover up for even 2% of their huge non-sustainable operation. And let’s be real, they probably don’t care anyway, they’re just doing it so they don’t get into hot water and have something to back them up if they’re accused of harming the environment.
They won’t stop yapping about these campaigns and play it across every screen in the store because it’s their saving grace.
Fast Fashion is murder. It single-handedly violates most labor laws, exploits underdeveloped countries, couldn’t care less about cultural sensitivity, takes the growing consumerism to greater heights, and is ruining the environment.
The saddest part is that we have turned into such “consumers” in the last 10 years, we are totally oblivious to how our choices are harming us and the environment we live in.
Pulling the Wool Over Our Eyes (Pun Intended)
Let’s get to the juicier part. The containers these brands keep by the cash counter? Where you can drop your old clothes? And they say they will recycle it? (H&M even has a whole incentive program behind it where they give you a discount on their products if you drop in your old stuff.) Yeah, that’s a scam. They take most of those clothes, which you gave to them FOR FREE and SELL FOR PROFIT to a 3rd party.
And this 3rd party sells it for profit to a black-market retailer in a 3rd world country again!
Your clothes finally end up in the black markets in Kenya or India where the poor judge you for throwing away a perfectly well-functioning piece of garment and buy it for half price.
But whatever is rejected by these people as well is simply tossed in the landfills. Long story short, you unknowingly end up contributing to not only textile waste but also pollution of the environment.
You should’ve just stuck to goodwill.