The FAST FASHION trap & how to escape | #whomademyclothes | Justine Leconte


Fast fashion is a quite recent phenomenon and it has completely changed the fashion industry. Here is my view on what fast fashion is, what the business model behind it is & what you and me can do, as individual consumers, to resist its negative effects and make informed decisions for ourselves.
I had a lot to say about it so the video turned out quite long… forgive me!
Oh, and if you wondered if a kid was screaming in the background, yes, the neighbors’ kids were extremely active during the entire filming time…

Further readings:
Project 3-33
MyGreenCloset reporting about her experience doing it for a full year:
#whomademyclothes (e.g. on Instagram) and the Fashion Revolution every year in April
The building that collapsed and killed over 1000 people in 2013: Rana Plaza, in Bangladesh
Book: Overdressed, the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion, by Elizabeth Cline

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Justine

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29 thoughts on “The FAST FASHION trap & how to escape | #whomademyclothes | Justine Leconte”

  1. I don't know if I am the first Bangladeshi to comment here. But in case someone else hasn't said it here before me, I will just try to address the Western consumers of Bangladeshi clothes, " please watch what you are buying." I know a lot of "educated" Bangladeshis will tell you the garment industry is increasing our GDP. But unfortunately, based on my experience that GDP has little to do with the whole country's economic situation.
    Bangladesh was an agricultural country before this fast fashion madness in the West. I am sorry to generalize, but that's the truth of it.
    Growing up, I didn't see a polluted Dhaka city that was unthinkable crowded by garment workers from the rest of the country. Neither did I see the incredible rise of wealth- gap. Both these are the blessings of fast fashion.
    Those things aside, just on the humane issue, when you buy these clothes, you keep feeding this evil chain.
    If you could just see the working conditions of those factories, you would feel like you are wearing other people's lives for two weeks. An average factory worker can work for 2 to 3 years before getting sick. There are 2 toilets for about a 120 female workers on a floor, and same for men. Not to mention, to catch a restroom break is incredibly difficult. When there's a sudden order for a bulk of clothes, the factory owners lock the workers in the building for the night. And yes, they don't pay overtime for these "sudden" needs. There's more, these workers are generally women. Because men tend to ask for "a little more", you can pay women less and control them easily. So factories prefer female workers.
    On the safety issues, I am guessing you have at least heard of Rana Plazza. Well, there has been many fires in many garment factories throughout decades. Rana Plazza just took enough lives to catch the attention of the media worldwide. Numerous times fires in garment factories have killed people, or injured them.
    I remember passing a garment factory everyday on my way to school. And for those seven years, I have never seen that factory's 'immergency exit' open. It just used to be there. One time as I was coming back from school our rickshaw stopped, there was a crowd of people in front of the building, they were scared and fighting. some were trapped inside the building. There was a fire in the building, some workers ran out and the security locked the door with the rest inside. The manager said, "there is no fire. The workers will steal our clothes". So some of those scared workers were trapped inside while the others were wailing outside. Luckily, that fire didn't kill anyone. But not many were as lucky. there have many such incidents that escaped the notice of international media.
    After leaving the country, I see people buying Zaara, H&M etc clothes. Many people are unfortunately addicted to buying new clothes.
    In class, as our teacher was explaining why we should not buy unneccesarily, I noticed many people don't want to hear it. They say, "I am just one person, if I stop buying, it will do nothing".
    But it does matter. As long as you keep buying, they will keep producing in the same brutal way. Yes, you are one person,
    yes, it's our country's duty to enforce labour law, yes, other people will keep buying it, but can you honestly say that you wouldn't mind if your home was burning and your neighbour came with a cigarette to light from the fire?
    If you say you would, then don't add even a single drop of fuel into this already huge fire. This is more serious than it looks to you from outside – I know. And the money you pay gets in the pockets of Bangladshi rich men, whose families live abroad in luxury, you are not improving the economy here, either. So please, don't buy cheap clothes to feel good and throw them in a month.
    Sorry for the huge comment. But I hope it reaches at least one person.

  2. Hi Justine, I hear you and I get your perspective. You have made some pressing points here. However, I also do feel that things are not as black and white as one may expect them to be. As lot of people here have already mentioned and its no secret that several high end luxury brands also have their manufacturing units in these countries. I guess some fingers should also be pointed at the countries from where these fast fashion brands are emerging. If you see it, its mostly from the western world. For instance in Germany if minimum wage per hour is 9-10euros then perhaps these companies should also provide the same wages to the labourers in Bangladesh and elsewhere. It's a classic case of initiating a problem and then blame it on the lack of laws in other countries. Everything boils down to economy. Countries from where these brands are emerging are major culprits in this as well. They should also have equally strict labour laws on sourcing things from abroad. if things were to be produced only locally and consumed locally as you mentioned, that would be an ideal utopian world. I live close to Berlin as well and I see most produces in the super market are from all over the world. Bananas from Costa Rica, Grapes from Africa or India, etc. I may be digressing a bit but the point here is that fashion is not the only industry who is participant in this. The problem cuts across sectors. In production of these food items also there is absolute lack of fairness. What farmers are getting in return and the conditions under which they are working are quite pathetic most of the times. Even if I speak of relatively better strata of the society, there are many software developers in the Indian subcontinent working for the MNC's who don't get treated equally as their counterparts in the same company's US or Europe offices. People work extra hours which is almost an unsaid kind of expectation. The answer to these problems can't just be that one should perhaps stop using the technology which is being made or being sourced from these countries. Would one also stop eating all tropical fruits and vegetables now in pretext of being ethical? The world today is highly globalised. People want to enjoy everything quickly, easily and as cheaply as possible and that is causing this stir. I cant think of a person for instance who would go all the way from Europe to India to enjoy mangoes in order to be ethically correct, and not instead purchase it off the rack from the supermarket next door. My simple point here is that the world is very globalised today and it has its own pros and cons which can be a separate discussion. It's good to be conscious and aware of these pertinent issues and do our bits to remedy it in our small ways. However, it is essential to understand that irrespective, all of our hands are also dirty as we are somewhere or the other involved in some part of this chain. It's a problem which exists in all sectors and is a huge grey area. If the situation needs to be rectified then international will is necessary and universal stringent international laws need to be put in place. Otherwise the so called 'developed countries' will continue exploiting the so called 'under developed'.

  3. The best made clothing I ever purchased was when I lived in Germany in the 80’s. Clothes were German made and on the expensive side. I noticed Germans had fewer clothes but the clothes they wore were much better made than what Americans were wearing. I still have a couple skirts and dresses from that period that are too small now but I keep them to remind me what well made clothes look like.
    I agree with the comments on ethics here, but looking at my closet, I don’t see how I can purchase better made brands not made in the countries you mention. My more expensive and well made clothes: Talbots, Ralph Lauren, Misook, and Tommy Bahama are made in the countries you mention— the same countries my cheaper brands (Macy’s house brand Charter Club, for example). My most expensive coat, Basler, was made in Ukraine…where some Zara clothing is also made. I find it amazingly difficult to find affordable clothing not made in the countries listed in the video. Last comment: Factory ethics and quality differ within countries and from country to country. I can compare quality differences. Unfortunately, differences in how workers are treated isn’t sewn in the garment.

  4. Not gonna lie, these details were hidden from my knowledge, like I knew of it but never deeply thought of it. My shopping habits are very similar to your description but there’s more to it explained here. Will need to step up my store choices. Both purposes: humanity and fashion quality sense

  5. I love buying clothes in second hands shop, materials of that shops are very good quality very often, this is more moral in my opinion, and cheper of course. I love when I find something from famous high brand 🔥

  6. The tips you gave are really good, at least I think that way. I actually buy from thrift shops from 10 years now and I have a particular cloth style that I always look for. It helped me to stop buying clothes that I end up never wear. Also the shop I mainly buy clothes encourage you to send them your old clothes that you don't wear anymore to try to sell them if they are still in good condition or to recycle them. So I like the whole idea of keeping the environment cleaner and also enjoying a cloth item that doesn't worth a bag of money, I don't mind the second hand part at all. 😊

  7. I now only support locally produced / sewn clothes in my own country after seeing how clothes were dumped in a landfill. Clothes don't biodegrade! It's an eye openimg moment.

  8. I am so glad I found your channel, Justine. I am watching all your videos, as much as I can watch per day, and I have to say your content is SO RICH, so valueable. Thank you VERY MUCH for sharing so much important, relevant content in such a clear, straightfoward way. I am loving you channel. Thank you!

  9. The best solution you can make is to buy a sewing machine and go to a fashion school to learn how to make your own clothes using the patterns you like. There are even advanced groups where they teach you how to make your own patterns.

    We pay for the jim, why not for fashion clases? Yes it costs buuuuut you can make that incredible channel dress and it will cost you a lot less than 500$, for example.

  10. The biggest consumer of fast fashion are the most developed countries (Western Europe, USA). Eastern Europe (e.g.) countries treat labels like Zara, H&M, etc. as very expensive clothes and they plan on wearing it for many seasons. Unfortunately, what is happening now is that even people who have had a healthy attitute towards buying clothes are starting to get sucked in that whirlpool of fast buying cheap stuff and throwing it away as soon as it shows a bit tear, and buying it again. Somehow we are taught we are only happy if we have more, more, more…
    What needs to change is the atitude towards it, children need to be shown from the early years what is a healthy attitude towards clothes and other things commercials force us to think we need. The circle needs to be broken somewhere.

  11. According to Wikipedia, among the brands that factories at Rana Plaza were producing for were Prada, Gucci, Versace and some other expensive brands. Can anyone comment on that? These are not fast fashion designers by any means…

  12. Fast fashion can be great and affordable for the extremely poor, a poor family of 5 can not afford to purchase "Long lasting quality designer clothing" it's not possible, a poor family struggles to by sale items at fast fashion stores, without them there is not much of a chance.

  13. I shop at Uniqlo. Though Uniqlo is fast fashion, many of their clothes don't feel disposable. I went to H&M, I was very disappointed how the fabrics and materials felt, they just felt cheap, though their prices are 30% less than what Uniqlo offers. The worst fast fashion company, in my opinion, is Forever 21; their clothes are so cheap and they feel so cheap. Personally, I think people who shop at Forever 21 constantly make poor choices regularly.
    Tank-top for $5!? I bet it's polyester. I bought 11 Pima Cotton striped T-shirts at Uniqlo for $5.90 each when they had a sale.

  14. I really like your video and it’s such an important topic to discuss! I’ve started thrifting clothes instead of buying new and they are
    -Much better quality
    -More Universal, I can mix and match better with other clothes
    -much much much cheaper!
    And it’s better for the environment and the whole ethic situation.
    Thanks a lot for sharing that, you explain very clearly 👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼

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