Fast Fashion Violates Human Rights.
According to IRALR, Fast Fashion is the third-largest crime-based industry in the world. The fashion industry thrives on exploitation, abuse, manipulation, child abuse, and human rights violations to make profits. Fast fashion trends force workers to work extra hours without overtime compensation. Underpaying workers in the fashion industry is not a surprise. It has been the norm for many years, and it is getting even worse because demand is getting high. The pandemic situation has brought destruction that will see a decline in the business for a while. Most of the workers in the fashion industry are primarily women; due to gender inequality, women’s rights in these industries are violated. They are underpaid, work many hours without compensation, and are exploited sexually. (Clothing and Human Rights – the Conscious Challenge). Children from poor backgrounds also work in the fashion industries, especially in third-world countries. The children are paid way less than the women. Child Labor is frowned upon globally, but the violation of this right does not hold in the fashion industries.
The problem with Fast Fashion
The speed at which information moves in the modern era informs the rate things become obsolete and out of demand in the market. Many areas like Technology and Fashion are among the most affected. Fashion trends change rapidly and without warning due to the evolving trends in fashion every day (Tridimas). The demand for trendy clothes at a low price drives the fashion industry to lower production costs at the expense of the worker. It reported that workers receive less than $ 2 per day for a wage. According to the Jakarta post, some clothes have received a note sewn in the clothes voicing the cry of women in various parts of Asia where these clothes are produced. (Wfulawpolicyjournal). The writer of this post, a right activist, points to how fast fashion industries are hurting the world in ways that do not seem to strike an alarm among people.
Despite laws geared towards human rights protection, especially labor laws, the violation of human rights in the industry has persisted to date. The government is reluctant to intervene in these matters, and the business prioritizes profit over human safety, pay, and a good working environment. The capitalism mentality has led to turning a blind high on these injustices orchestrated in the fashion industries. The victims cannot fight for their rights because they are usually employed in the informal sector. It also becomes impossible to trace production because the producing countries are rarely the consumers. (Corradini and Krivenko). The workers are prohibited from forming labor unions. The worker also does not know who they are usually working for, so they have no one to report.
Apart from the violation of human rights, fast fashion industries are the significant contributors of waste that further lead to environmental problems in the world. The demand for trendy clothes at a low price leads to the purchase of many clothes shortly discarded for the current trend. The fashion industry’s emission of carbon dioxide is considerably high. The waste materials such as dyes from textile production are dumped in the rivers and lakes (Reid). Synthetic fibers are other pollutants from the industry that neither is usually nor disposed of appropriately being plastic. Waste that fills landfills in various parts of the country produces methane which leads to global warming.
Do the cons outweigh the Pros in the Fast Fashion Industry?
The fast Fashion industry is one of the main contributors to employment in third-world countries. Most of the people employed in these factories would not be having a job. It has reduced extreme poverty in some of the nations, especially for women. The fast-fashion also makes an enormous contribution to the economy. In the U.K., the fashion industry is estimated to contribute $ 42 billion. The pandemic situation has led to decreased clothing purchases to almost 34%, and some clothes stores closed down. It raises the question of what the future holds for the fashion industries, especially in developing countries. Despite the minor contributions that the fashion industry has made in the countries where production takes place, the massive destruction it has caused is not equitable. We have seen many deaths, and many people have been injured due to negligence and poor working conditions. Tazreen, in Bangladesh, one of the garments making factory recorded 100 deaths of workers due to a fire the broke out in the factory (Tierney sneed). According to Corradini and Krivenko, approximately 2.8 million workers in clothing have been reported to have died between 2016 and 2017. The tragedy that happened in Bangladesh due to t collapse of the Rana Plaza led to the death of 1,100 workers.
Attempt to Regulate Fast Fashion industry
They created self-awareness among people to realize the economic cost of buying and dumping clothes not because they are worn out but because the trend is out of date. The environmental cost of producing dresses that end up being thrown in a landfill is often not considered. Encouraging people to normalize wearing more and buying less to save the earth will appeal to consumers. Taking care of the clothes we already have also helped reduce the rate of wear and tear. Therefore, the clothing will look new for longer and the need to buy new clothes every time will not be an option. We insist that the consumer has the power to make a difference. The high demand for trendy fashion is causing the fashion industry to jump through hoops at the expense of a poor worker.
Clothes recycling scheme has been suggested by adding a little more on every piece of clothing to fund the clothes recycling method. Recycling clothes will prevent advanced environmental damage and reduce unnecessary waste in landfills. Taking drastic measures such as recycling schemes and other reforms in the fast fashion industry does not mean loss of employment. We will collectively save the environment by providing a better quality lifestyle for workers in these garments-producing industries. The Fast fashion industry is characterized by poor quality clothes that are produced fast. These clothes are also prone to wear and tear quickly compared to better quality clothes. Necessary reforms would lead to high-quality garments at a higher price but durable in the long run. When we do the math, we can see how clothes are bought and discarded would equal better quality clothes that cost higher but durable and more comfortable.
The government should intervene and protect their workers’ welfare because poorly paid workers contribute very little to the economy. Poverty levels will continue to increase generation after generation. The environmental degradation caused by the fashion industries also poses an economic risk and cost that the government is not calculating.
Investors can also play a significant role in curbing human rights violations in fast fashion industries by finding out how sustainable their investing is. In the long run, the companies that use dubious means like exploitation and violation of human rights to make profits and stay relevant in the market are not sustainable in the long run (Tierney Sneed). The investment in such a company is high risk. The consumer may get wind of the company reputation and fail to buy from them. The working environment and conditions are not safe for the worker or the company. Fire and other disasters arise due to these companies’ negligence, which leads to massive losses by the company. It confirmed that some disasters could be insured against, but others cannot. Besides, Things are changing worldwide. The NGOs and various activists are drawing the world to the injustices in these companies. The workers are also getting empowered and making informed decisions to prioritize their lives more than a job that can cause their deaths.
Supply chain legislation to prevent human trafficking in the supply chain aims to improve the working condition of the workers in garments manufacturing industries. However, this attempt has faced opposition, and it has been blocked as much as supply Chain Legislation would not get into the heart of the matter. It is an essential step towards fast fashion reforms globally, necessitating more aggressive attempts to get the fashion industries to comply.
The fast fashion industry is a thriving business that has contributed significantly to the economy. However, cheap clothes make the consumer feel like they have attained the value of their money while purchasing clothes; someone else is paying a massive price for it to the extent of life. The industry is not only violating human rights by employing children and underpaying the workers, especially women. The fast production of clothes is also causing substantial environmental problems that are not adequately addressed. We can argue that the fast fashion industries are creating employment. The end goal subtracts the gain to zero. Proper reforms will boost the fashion business, but they will promote the company’s sustainability. Some raw materials like cotton are acquired through farming. However, continued damage to the environment will lead to a low supply of raw materials. Fast fashion makes the solution more complicated because the retailer and the factory management are not usually in touch. The buyer is not aware of the person who produced their clothes. We are, however, witnessing the first steps to the reform, and all is not lost. It might take a while longer, but the consistency of creating awareness and the various activists and layers documenting the injustices in the fast world contributes to the reform.
Clothing & Human Rights — The Conscious Challenge. “The Conscious Challenge.” The Conscious Challenge, 6 June 2019, www.theconsciouschallenge.org/ecologicalfootprintbibleoverview/clothing-human-rights.
Corradini, Julia, and Ekaterina Krivenko. The Clothing Industry and Human Rights Violations Consumption, Individuals and the Role of Big Players. , 2017.
Tridimas, Beatrice. “How the Fashion Industry Interferes with Human Rights.” Keisei Magazine, 9 Dec. 2019, keiseimagazine.com/how-the-fashion-industry-interferes-with-human-rights/.
Runways of New York Fashion Week to the Fast-Fashion Companies of Today.” Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy, 18 Feb. 2020, wfulawpolicyjournal.com/2020/02/17/human-rights-violations-from-the-runways-of-new-york-fashion-week-to-the-fast-fashion-companies-of-today/.
Reid, Lindsey. “Fast-Fashion: Unethical and Unsustainable – UAB Institute for Human Rights Blog.” Sites.uab.edu, 26 Apr. 2018, sites.uab.edu/humanrights/2018/04/26/fast-fashion-unethical-and-unsustainable/.
The Jakarta Post. “Is Human Rights out of Style in Fast-Fashion World?” The Jakarta Post, 2017, www.thejakartapost.com/life/2017/11/22/is-human-rights-out-of-style-in-fast-fashion-world.html.
IRALR. “FAST FASHION: A BOON or BANE for WORKER RIGHTS?” Indian Review of Adv, 18 Apr. 2021, www.iralr.in/post/fast-fashion-a-boon-or-bane-for-worker-rights. Accessed 6 May 2021.
Tierney Sneed. “Why Cleaning up the Fashion Industry Is so Messy.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 2014, www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/07/16/efforts-to-clean-up-fast-fashion-supply-chains-face-a-tough
Whiting, Kate. “7 Ways to Break the Fast Fashion Habit – and Save the Planet.” World Economic Forum, 22 Feb. 2019, www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/02/7-ways-to-break-the-fast-fashion-habit-and-save-the-planet/.
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