E-commerce / Emerging Designers / Fashion Focus / Opinion

Fashionably Educate Yourself

Here’s some food for thought. Everything we do, everything we buy, has an effect on the economy.

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Feeding into traps such as fast fashion and what we think are “bargains” is actually what is hurting the economy so badly. And my generation may be at most blame for this. Now I didn’t say completely at blame, but us Millennials think it is okay to consume without thinking about how our actions are affecting the rest of the economy. We fall prey to the idea that we can get what we want right away and for the lowest price with no repercussions.

But that’s not true.

It is absolutely insane what vicious cycle keeps occurring these days. This even confuses me sometimes, so bear with me. There is a lack of jobs and a high rate of unemployment in our country. This causes people to buy things that are sold for extremely cheap because they are made internationally. Which decreases the amount of available jobs in the U.S. even more because so much of our money is feeding into other counties’ economy. And because so much of our money is going back into someone else’s economy, we don’t have the money to be paying fair wages for the people who are working at these inexpensive stores here in the U.S.

Have I lost you yet?

This then leads to more people paying for goods at an extremely low price. And we wonder why recent college graduates aren’t finding well-paying jobs and are ending up working in retail or some equivalent after having earned a college degree.

For someone like me, who is soon to graduate college in a year and will be heading out into the real world to start a career, this is a scary thought. While doing some research, these were some facts that I found especially interesting:

  • In the mid-1960s, 95 percent of America’s clothes were made domestically; today, 97 percent are made abroad

  • Fashion—a $2.5 trillion sector—is the second most polluting industry on Earth, right behind oil

  • The process of shopping, wearing, recycling, and upcycling all have tremendous impact on the entire planet. 

  • Fast fashion depletes the Earth’s resources and uses slave labor all over the world.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 7.19.13 PMI’m not writing about this issue to be a downer, but this whole experience has been extremely eye-opening. I used to shop in malls and feed into the fast fashion trap, as well. But now I have realized what that is doing to our economy and the simple idea that there are human beings who make what we wear (even if at Chinese “fair wages”). The political effects of exploiting workers’ rights, and the economic effects of unchecked consumerism is scary when you look at the combination.

And it must feel like we are shoving the small business idea down your throat by now, but if I have learned anything from this experience thus far, it is that supporting such businesses is much more important and beneficial than buying a $10 dress from H&M that I’ll throw away come next summer. (Speaking of landfills filled with fast fashion, well that’s a discussion for another day.)

This is an issue that is a work in progress to change. It cannot change overnight; however, the sooner we realize that it is occurring, the sooner we can make a difference.

For more information on these issues, visit these articles: Style.com, Huffington Post, and Otter.org.

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