• Megan Maley

Slow Fashion Season 2020


Wow. A whole year has passed since my last post. How fitting that the last post I made was about Slow Fashion Season 2019 and here I am entering Slow Fashion Season 2020.

A quick reminder: Slow Fashion Season is a 90-day challenge to not buying any new clothes. Instead, wear what you already own... Repurpose what you already have... Buy ONLY secondhand when you must... Or swap clothes with a friend... Just don't buy any NEW clothes.

More information is at SlowFashionSeason.org.

Why is this important?

Because we care about the planet and we care about our fellow human beings. There are enough garments on the planet right now to clothe the next SIX generations. And the folks who make clothing are (almost without exception) significantly underpaid. Underpaid might actually not even be the right word. Essentially they are just damn-near slaves. Subjected to working conditions that nobody should have to work in... treated unfairly and unethically... and paid peanuts for their time and effort.

While it would be SO simple to turn a blind eye to this (as most of you do and as I did for entirely too long)... unfortunately, being ignorant to a problem does not make it go away. Instead, it perpetuates the problem because fast-fashion (fast-fashion is essentially ANY brand that isn't categorized as sustainable or ethical... so... yes, Target is fast-fashion. WalMart is fast-fashion. Amazon is fast-fashion. H&M "Concious Collection" is both fast-fashion AND greenwashing is another extremely problematic issue) brands KNOW you don't want to bother yourself with learning where your clothes come from and they use this knowledge to their advantage by sweeping manufacturing processes and wage information even further under the rug.

This movement is so important to me because I feel like we have so few opportunities to cause real change as consumers and as citizens of this planet. We vote for politicians who we think have the same values as we do, only to be disappointed months into new terms when they become as common as every other politician (swayed by lobbying dollars and big business). But we vote with our dollars every day. Where you spend your money MATTERS. Every dollar spent on new clothes and fast-fashion is a VOTE for fast-fashion. Every dollar you spend on ethical fashion or secondhand clothing is a VOTE for sustainability.

Clothes may seem trivial at the moment. After all, we are in the midst of both a global pandemic and a human rights movement... but #clothesarepolitical and they actually ARE important during all of this. Most especially in terms of human rights. Most of the clothes on this planet were sewn together by garment workers who are underpaid and under-represented. These garment workers are disproportionately women of color who are often forced to work, and forced to work under dangerous conditions and rewarded with substandard pay. You don't have to take my word for it. Google it. Please. The lack of accountability by fast-fashion corporations with regard to the welfare of the garment workers producing their clothes is abhorrent and only perpetuated by our inclination to look away. Individually, we might feel like we make little to no difference; but collectively, we DO make a difference and we are slowly but surely cancelling fast-fashion. Forever 21, J. Crew, Charlotte Russe... these brands have all filed for bankruptcy in recent months. And the list goes on.

From an article titled Uniqlo and the women owed $5.5 million published on CleanClothes.org:

"In the fashion game, brands always win and garment workers always lose. It’s a stacked deck, the winning hands held by those with the money. In the quest for ever-greater profits, garment workers are often treated as yet another commodity, to be swapped at will, as brands act with impunity and watch their profits rise.

"Uniqlo, a brand worth $8.6 billion, has been embroiled in an ongoing workers rights case for nearly five years, yet this has done nothing to dent their rising profits and rapid expansion. Owned by parent company Fast Retailing, Uniqlo has ambitions to become one of the world’s biggest clothing retailers. Tadashi Yanai, CEO of Fast Retailing, is the richest man in Japan. He is worth $31.6 billion, and yet 2,000 of the Indonesian garment workers who helped to make him so rich now live in abject poverty. They worked in two Jaba Garmindo factories, making clothes for Uniqlo and, in the largest unresolved wage theft case in the garment industry, they are legally-owed $5.5 million in severance pay, yet Uniqlo continues to deny responsibility towards these workers. The case has had no negative impact on their profits, and Fast Retailing increased their operating profit by 9% in 2019 alone.

"Jaba Garmindo was under investigation for labour rights abuses, including the firing of pregnant workers and the harassment of trade union members. Uniqlo was a major buyer and stopped placing orders while the investigation was ongoing. This is not the action of a brand invested in workers rights, it is a self-serving move designed to distance them from an investigation into rights violations. A responsible step would have been to commit to staying in the factories, to finding out the results of the investigation and to working with management, workers and trade unions to put measures in place that ensure the protection of workers rights. Instead, Uniqlo’s exit led to Jaba Garmindo’s collapse into bankruptcy. In April 2015, 4,000 garment workers arrived at work to find the factories shuttered and their wages unpaid, including vital benefits such as severance pay. Of those workers, now, nearly five years later, 2,000 of them remain fighting for what they are still owed: $5.5 million in severance pay. Th Uniqlo has yet to pay the 4K+ workers wages they are OWED for work in Indonesian factories (Jaba Garmindo). The amount they are owed is 5.5 million." #payupuniqlo

5.5 million is .017% of 31.6 billion. It is, quite literally, a fraction of a percent.

In the words of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC and because I literally could not have said it better): “You made that money off of the backs of undocumented people, you made that money off of the backs of black and brown people being paid under a living wage, you made that money off of the backs of single mothers.” “You sat on a couch while thousands of people were paid-modern day wages— and in some cases, real modern-day slavery...”

“No one ever MAKES a billion dollars. You TAKE a billion dollars.”

Let that sink in.

You have a choice. You have a vote. Election season isn’t a season or a single day. It’s every.damn.day. You vote with your dollars. #Clothesarepolitical. And honest to goodness, Slow Fashion Season isn't really a season. Once you realize how fast-fashion is perpetuating human rights issues, Slow Fashion Season becomes a way of life.

So here we go with #SlowFashionSeason2020 because my clothes are not worth the livelihood of another human being. End of story.

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