Updated: Mar 16, 2022
Written By Kristian Braband
When we think of the negatives of fast fashion, the first thing we think of is environmental damage. But we don’t always think of the individuals living and working in the conditions of fast fashion production. Chemicals and dyes used in clothing production can cause cancer and gastric and skin issues. These health issues are dangerous for those working in the factories; eighty percent of whom are women of colour*, who are frequently exposed to toxic fumes and fabric dust. This disproportionately affects people of colour, especially in China, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Zambia since these countries are where many fast fashion companies source their products, in order to have cheaper labour.
In the fast fashion industry, people of colour are often exploited by being paid poor wages and having to work in unsafe conditions*. And whilst this is happening, CEOs continue to benefit from this as their profits grow. Multiple fast fashion brands have also been found to steal countless POC artists’ designs for their clothing without crediting or payment. The level of exploitation even goes as far as controlling women’s personal lives, with some clothing factories making workers sign contracts promising not to have children so it doesn’t affect their work*.
Despite this issue appearing in the news again and again, awareness and action is still low. Pressure needs to be put on brands to ensure workers throughout their supply chains are being treated fairly and paid a living wage. As consumers, we should try our best to shop consciously by buying from ethical brands as well as supporting POC designers and small businesses. We also must continue to hold larger brands accountable for when they act unethically. Consumers have power in where we choose to put our money!
*Sources: Labour Behind the Label, remake.world