Ignorance is bliss. Even ignorance underpinned by a gnawing suspicion that the bargain you’re about to bag has to have a catch. Well it does, it has one hell of a catch. And that gnawing suspicion is now a terrifying reality.
Back in the 80s, growing up in Ireland, money wasn’t plentiful. The Christmas trip to Primark for new pyjamas and “Christmas clothes” was an event and school uniforms were purchased on layaway. Events like weddings required months of budgeting to afford the requisite hat as well as outfits for the kids. The gnawing suspicion was there. People were vaguely aware of sweatshops but I think there was an underlying assumption that people were inherently good and decent. If kids were being used in factories, surely it wasn’t that many. And if women were being forced to work long hours, wasn’t it better than being in the sex trade. People were blissfully unaware of how bad things really were.
Fast forward to 2015 and it’s a very different story. We have the facts and a simple google search places the ugly truth right in front of us. In fact, we don’t even need to actively seek this truth – after all it’s unlikely anyone could have missed the Rana Plaza story, being covered as it was by media across the globe. We cannot claim ignorance any longer. We cannot avoid the truth about the under-developed being exploited to feed the developed appetite for fast fashion. We can no longer kid ourselves that the supply chain is run by those who are decent and fair.
But what we can do is choose. We can choose not to support these practices. We can choose to make our money our voice and support brands who are doing the right thing, and those who are trying to start. We can choose not to place greater value on our own lives than that of a woman in Bangladesh, a man in China or a child in Cambodia. We can choose to seek our information that helps us to make better, informed choices.
I have made my choice. I believe that ethical fashion is the future of fashion. I care who made my closest. And really, the question isn’t why should I care….the question is how could I not?