Today is the one year anniversary of the tragic collapse of Rana Plaza, a garment factory in Savar, Bangladesh. Over 1,100 workers died in the collapse, and more than 2,500 were severely injured, making it the deadliest garment factory “accident” in history. I’m putting “accident” in quotes because the fact is this tragedy was completely preventable. The building, which was never zoned for factory use, was crammed with heavy machinery and crowded with workers, frantically trying to keep up with the impossibly rushed production cycle of fast fashion retailers in America and Europe. If we don’t want to see a repeat of Rana Plaza, something needs to change.
To mark this somber anniversary and kick off a call for change in the fashion industry, today has been branded Fashion Revolution Day. This year’s FRD theme is transparency. Here’s an excerpt from the official website: Keep reading »
Yesterday, ethical fashion collective Zady issued a battle cry against fast fashion companies like Forever 21, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Zara, and Topshop in the form of a full-page, no-punches-pulled ad in The Wall Street Journal. “Fast fashion is fast food,” the ad declares, listing some of the horrific side effects of our culture’s fast fashion addiction: exploited workers (mostly women), toxic pollution, and landfills overflowing with cheap, disposable clothing. It’s time to change our shopping habits. It’s time to value quality over quantity. It’s time to demand sustainable practices, fair wages, and safe work environments from the companies we support with our dollars. As Zady’s website puts it, “We should not be compelled to accept throwaway goods as a way of life.” Forgive me for being less than eloquent, but FUCK YES. Keep reading »
It’s been about 6 months since I vowed to overhaul my shopping habits and become a more conscious consumer. One of my main goals was to cut back on fast fashion, AKA super cheap, trendy clothes from stores like Forever 21, Zara, H&M, and Topshop that refresh their inventory almost daily and rely heavily on sweat shop labor. Honestly, I didn’t realize how addicted I was to fast fashion until I tried to break my habit. It’s been a bumpy road (and I still haven’t phased it out completely), but the rewards are worth it: my closet is less crowded, my clothes are better quality, and I feel better about where my money’s going. If you’ve been thinking of cutting down on your fast fashion consumption (woohoo! you go girl!), here are 5 tips I learned the hard way:
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When I think of Forever 21, I definitely think of ethical egoism and the Objectivist movement, not sweatshop-like labor conditions and cozy accessories starting at $2.80. You can find this “Unstoppable Muscle Tee” emblazoned with an Ayn Rand quote referring to the author’s capitalist-based theory of Objectivism, the basis of which is that the moral purpose of life is “rational self-interest,” right next to the “Free Spirit Weekender Dress,” which reads “Pizza, Love, Boys, Music, Parties, Dancing, Whatever.” Pizza, love, boys, music, parties, dancing, Objectivism, whatever! [Time]
On the one hand, I’m not the hugest fan of Forever 21. As a company they’ve a history of things like (allegedly) ripping off designers and (allegedly) mistreating workers. And when I bought things from them back in my high school days they always fell apart. On the other hand: I really like that pencil skirt, and some of the sweaters are decidedly nice and snuggly-looking. I’m just going to wistfully look at some of the items in the company’s new Bats & Cats collection and wish someone else made them, but you can decide for yourself. Read more on The Mary Sue…
Forever 21, you just keep getting better and better. In between lowering your prices to make them more “guilt-free” (with little thought, of course, to the workers who actually make the products), and getting in trouble for sweatshop-like labor conditions, you’ve now gone and fucked over the people who work in your stores. Earlier this week, Forevs sent out a memo noting that any and all “non-management” full-time employees would be reclassified as part-time, effective almost immediately.
“Forever 21,” reads the memo from human resources associate director Carla Macias, “recently audited its staffing levels, staffing needs and payroll in conjunction with reviewing its overall operating budget. As a result, we are reducing a number of full-time non-management positions.” All employees who received the memo will be reduced to a schedule to not exceed 29.5 hours per week. Why is that the magic number? Because under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, mid- and large-sized employers are required to pay for health insurance for employees who work 30 hours or more. Forever 21 thinks it can get around this simply by reducing its technically-full time staff to part-time positions.
And they’re right. Keep reading »