My project for assessment three focuses on ethical fashion and the effects the fashion industry has on the environment and the factory workers. Ethical fashion is fashion that enhances the benefits for people whilst minimising the negative effects on the environment and factory workers. We currently live in a time where clothing availability is endless and prices are reduced, this time period is also referred to as ‘fast fashion’. Creative Director of Eco-Age, Livia Firth, explains how society now views all clothing as disposable. Due to new fashion trends being introduced so frequently, women are expected to keep new articles of clothing for just five weeks before disposing of the items. Frequent disposal of clothing articles creates textile waste, which when decomposed releases methane which affects the environment negatively.
Not only does the fashion industry have negative effects on the environment, it also has severe effects on the factory workers. Anguelov explains how the reality of low prices carries its disadvantages. In order to keep prices low for the consumer, clothing manufacturers strive to keep their production costs low. (Anguelov 2). Therefore, production workers in developing countries are not receiving fair human rights. Many factory workers will often work 96 hour weeks, and receive very little pay for their hard work. Not only is the pay unfair, but the working conditions are poor. An extreme example of when poor working conditions have had a negative effect on factory workers is the Rana Plaza tragedy. Rana Plaza was a garment factory in Bangladesh which collapsed on April 24th, 2013, with more than 1000 factory workers inside, due to the construction of the factory being unsafe. It is crucial that society begins to think about who made their clothes and where their clothes will go once disposed of.
Mirzoeff describes visual thinking as something we do not simply study; and something which we have to engage with ourselves. (Mirzoeff 289). Visual thinking is a method of organising your thoughts and emotions visually. To successfully think visually we must be physically in the moment where visual thinking is taking place. Visual activism is a process of promoting, directing, or announcing change through visual examples. Mirzoeff discusses how the ways in which we engage with issues have changed. (Mirzoeff 290). This is due to the progression of technology over time and how there are now more platforms where issues can be shared and spoken about visually. An example where visual activism has taken place to promote ethical fashion was when a New Zealand business, Space Between, brought fashion to the street to engage with the public. Space Between performed a flash mob in central Wellington which they explained as ‘’an action to demonstrate the regard for clothing in contemporary society and the harmful effects of the fashion/textile industry’’.
Anguelov, Nikolay. The Dirty Side Of The Garment Industry. [Electronic Resource] : Fast Fashion And Its Negative Impact On Environment And Society. n.p.: Boca Raton : CRC Press, , 2016. Massey University Library Catalogue. Web. 15 May 2016.
“Fashion Revolution/Space Between Pre-Launch”. Space Between. N.p., 2016. Web. 16 May 2016.
Firth, Livia. “A Conversation With Livia Firth | The True Cost”. The True Cost. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 May 2016.
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to See the World. Great Britain: Penguin, 2015. Print.
‘’Rana Plaza’’. Video. Fashion Revolution. Youtube. 16 Apr 2016. Web. 16 May 2016.