Fast Fashion is a Feminist Issue
This is a topic very close to my heart, not because I am a woman, but because I can't stand injustice. Especially in times of a pandemic which has seen an increase in domestic violence mostly affecting women, and the lack of worker's protection, particularly in third world countries where labour is cheap and women have no choice, have been topics widely discussed in the media. There is a serious problem with an industry where shareholders receive multi million dollar payouts from brands during a health crisis, while garment workers are left with nothing.
This year's International Women's Day promoted the message that "an equal world is an enabled world" and encouraged people to fight bias and celebrate women's achievements. While this was a great initiative that reached all corners of the world, the most recent Global Gender Gap Report 2020 revealed that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years.
"Gender parity has a fundamental bearing on whether or not economies and societies thrive. Developing and deploying one-half of the world’s available talent has a huge bearing on the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide." (WeForum)
How does gender parity relate to fast fashion?
In regard to fashion, it is no secret that most workers in garment factories are women, in fact approximately 80%, and they are working long hours in often dangerous conditions. The majority of these women, making fast fashion clothing for people in developed nations, are aged 18 - 35 with children and families to provide for, often they are the main income earner. The problem is, these female workers are exposed to dangerous conditions like heat, chemicals, factory fires, no food or water while not even being paid a living wage – adding to the pressure at home.
Today, there are still thousands of brands, in Australia and globally, that contribute to the exploitation of female artisans by either not knowing or not caring what conditions these women work in. It can be assumed that the cheaper the clothing, the more likely it was made under unethical labour practices.
So yes, fast fashion is a feminist issue. Women shouldn't have to risk their lives at work every day to feed their family.
How do we stop the discrimination of workers' rights?
While this is an urgent wake-up call for policy-makers to take action in better equipping and protecting women (this applies to third world countries as well as developed nations), consumers can also make a difference by choosing sustainable fashion brands that have stringent and transparent labour rights in place by paying a legal wage at minimum, providing nutrition, sanitation, following fair trade practices. There are sustainable and ethical fashion brands who do an impeccable job at empowering women, their families and communities by giving them control over how they work and often even educating and skill training them.
At Indie & Isaac, we want to support women everywhere. We only partner with labels that can commit to using responsible factories that prohibit unlawful labour and discrimination. It is our mission to educate parents and consumers around the impact their choices can have on the people and planet and lead a movement towards a more slow fashion industry.
We are a tiny Sydney start-up that wants to do things right. We focus on organic baby clothes and natural fibres over those made from finite fossil fuels like polyester. We believe we can all make better choices for the planet and people around us by buying less and choosing well.
Kids clothes don't have to cost the Earth.
So, what can you do as an individual right now to combat fast fashion?
- Educate yourself: follow organisations such as the Sustainable Fashion Forum, the Fashion Revolution or the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
- Wear the change to want see: download the Good On You app to understand how your favourite brands are being rated in terms of sustainability and what raw materials are better for the planet.
- Buy less and choose well: start thrifting and only buy new what you absolutely need.
- Create a sustainable capsule wardrobe to cut down on textile waste (and time to get dressed!)
- Don't get greenwashed: look for certifications and standards like GOTS, OEKO-Tex, FairTrade, WRAP or ask your favourite brands directly for more information around their sustainability practices.
- Follow Indie & Isaac to support ethical kid's labels and create more (local) jobs in the sustainable fashion industry while taking climate action in the same time.
- Support ethical brands from BIPOC owned clothing brands to help stop white supremacy.