‘Sustainability’ is the buzz word. ‘Fast fashion’ is the bad word.
We all know it, we all have heard it and if you haven’t heard it here’s the tl;dr.
- Fast fashion = exploitation of workers
- Fast fashion = bad plastic for the environment
- Fast fashion = clutter/consumerism/bad spending habits
The list goes on and the reality is far more nuanced but in sum, fast fashion makes us buy quick, buy a lot and then never wear it again.
In this culture of #OOTD and #FitCheck – it’s almost instinctive to buy a new cute fit for every dinner, birthday or brunch. You gotta do it for the gram. Fast fashion stores like Zara, HnM, Shein, Boohoo, Fashionova, Mirrou have made it so attainable why would you not do it for the gram?
The rates are low, the styles are fresh AND you get your insta pic and never have to think about it again when you got it for so cheap.
So you’re thinking but we’re good with desi clothing right? We can’t really walk into multiple stores and get a new outfit for under $30.00 in New Zealand … so fast fashion shouldn’t really be an issue when shopping desi right?
A simple google search returns the result of India’s reality of workers being paid less than a rupee for completing a whole outfit. A study conducted by Siddharth Kara at the University of California deduced that over 12 million workers in India were employed by the garment industry and millions more worked from home. Up to 19% of these workers were between the ages of 10-18 being paid 0.13-0.15 per hour.
While we pay hundreds of dollars for our desi clothes, it just should not sit right with us that we have no means of knowing how much the workers were actually paid to make them? We could be paying over $200 for a dress that the factory paid someone less than a rupee to make? Why do we allow for our local vendors or our designers to charge us these rates without paying the workers fairly?
You’re probably thinking…
Okay what’s the solution? Do I just give up desi clothing in order to limit this exploitative market? Do I source check every single item I buy? HOW would I even do that?
No. We probably can’t ask the local sari aunty if she knows what the wages are of the people who made the garments. She might know. Odds are she won’t.
The reality is unsustainable fashion practices do not just come with cheap clothes. It shows up in the desi fashion industry in the form of (to name a few) cheap copies of designer outfits, insanely high markups on clothing and unsustainable materials.
So what CAN you do to combat the limitations of supporting ethical and sustainable desi fashion in New Zealand?
REPEAT. YOUR. OUTFITS.
I do not know who made it a crime to repeat outfits or why but I’d like to blame capitalism and patriarchy for now. The biggest problem I have observed is the need for everyone to spend hundreds of dollars every diwali, eid, christmas, wedding etc only to have the outfits collect dust in your wardrobe afterwards.
This is the easiest and most sustainable way to get the most out of your desi wardrobe.
BE MINDFUL OF MATERIALS
If we cannot be aware of the way the product was made – we can always ask what the materials are. Being mindful of what materials are causing harm to the environment will help create a demand of sustainable materials that are not a hazard to you or the environment.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BUSINESSES!
When you support your desi clothing being sourced, designed, stitched and made locally you can know safely that what you’re wearing did not come from the exploitation of a mass of factory workers in poor conditions.
For this reason we shine the light this week on “JASMEETA” the label.
Stay tuned to read about her brand and her journey of sustainable, bold and true to you desi fashion.
Shot by OOTTUM COLLECTIVE