Can We Find a Balance Between the Fashion Industry and Social Justice?

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Lucy Jackson: September 8th, 2020

Whilst the fashion industry must
reduce their environmental impact,
achieving social justice is just as an
important as climate justice for
fashion designers. Wouldn’t you like
to know where your clothes come from exactly? How much they really cost to make, versus how much their value is worth? Did you realise that the top you bought yesterday out of Primark for £7, was fabricated by workers in a complex supply chain, who rarely receive ethical rights and are mistreated? The answer is probably not, as this industry does not show complete transparency, making it difficult for consumers to understand the process chain. Even those who are aware may still carry on as usual, as they are unaware of what they can do to help reduce this globalized process.

Issues of transparency, affordability, accessibility, accountability and wage equality are key examples of social injustice in the fashion business. As a large proportion of the world suffer from poverty, it is important to make clothes accessible to all. This is why Primark do so well, as many people can afford their items. However, workers are being exploited elsewhere by long work hours and terrible working conditions. It was not until the factory incident in Bangladesh, which killed over 1100 people, that awoke us to what the fashion industry really looks like behind the scenes. We must find a balance where fashion can promote affordable clothes, but with actions that do not abuse workers’ rights. At present, this industry promotes an unequal world, dividing populations even further apart in wage percentages. Yet in the end who is accountable for this problem, is it us as the consumers who buy the clothes? The million pound businesses? Or even the government to ensure businesses take full responsibility of their workers’ rights?

Anyway, enough of this doom and gloom, what can we really do as consumers to prevent this discriminating system? First of all, we must attempt to reduce our participation to ‘fast fashion’. This industry will do whatever it takes to produce constant, affordable clothes, disregarding ethical values. So what if I told you that you could still grab your wardrobe essentials whilst reducing these issues. If you want to step out of this culture and contribute positively to climate and social justice, then buying second hand is the way forward!

Here at Transition we want to provide reused clothes that our affordable and accessible for everyone, to lower our waste production and improve societal and environmental conditions. Who knows, you could even find a hidden gem you have been looking for from a particular designer, for a much lower price.

Us, as students have the ability to change our current social injustice fashion world, to a place that supports both the planet and people. Purchasing from pop up shops/charities and apps like Depop, gradually have the ability to reduce consumption patterns, and enable producers to become aware we want fashion systems to change.

So come along and support our next local pop up store!