A First Step to Sustainable Fashion

Do you ever wonder where your clothes came from? Where it was produced? Where it goes after you decided not to wear it anymore? When was the last time you wore a piece of clothing to its breaking point? When was the last time you went shopping just for the sake of its cheap price?
These are unpopular questions that we seldom ask ourselves but actually play a big role in how controlling the clothes we purchase can contribute to fostering the lower-class society and environment in a concept called Sustainable Fashion.
Just like anything else, all things for sale starts with a production process and the sad truth we don’t realize we are facing is that there is a big chance that your favorite go-to brand of clothing still produces clothing lines in sweat-shops. Clothes produced here means that they employ underage kids and women to work at factories with poor working conditions, are underpaid, and work for unreasonably long hours. This is worsened by the fact that these lower-class economics society do not have much choices due to their lack of education and thus, skills. This is undeniably a serious violation of human rights, worsened by the fact that an estimated 250 million children aged 5 to 14 are forced to work in sweatshops in developing countries, and that’s only for the humanitarian bit of the problem. For the brands that utilizes machines at their factories, uncountable number of brands has yet to provide transparency on how they process their factory waste, utilize synthetic textile colorings, and use of animal skins. The second of which would then give out negative health effects back to those sweatshop works, worsening their otherwise dire condition. This issue of transparency crisis doesn’t mean these brands are not sustainable, but it just doesn’t give the consumers closure if they are contributing for the better or for the worse for this planet, considering how ever impending the global warming issues is.
Fashion brands that still commit one or both of the aforementioned conducts are what sustainable fashion activists called “Fast-Fashion” (try searching ‘famous fast fashion brands’ to know the brands, we’ll leave that for your exploring) and we are only making things worse by being consumers of their products. But does that mean we should stop buying clothes for good?
The little yet collective step counts in tackling these sorts of issues. Try reflecting on the last time you purchase an item of clothing. Did you really like it? Or was it only purchased for its low price-tag? How many items in your wardrobe has been left unused for… let’s just say six months? These questions are of the essence to be contemplated upon because every time we fall into these marketing strategies we are only encouraging the aforementioned issues to be prolonged or even worsened.  “People bought 60% more garments in 2014 than in 2000, they only kept the clothes for half as long” (McKinsey & Company, Ellen MacArthur Foundation). Next, those unkept garment would just end up in landfills, thus contributing even more to land pollution. Lastly, there is this issue of our contribution of carbon footprints to the earth. With online shopping only being a few clicks away from getting our newest favorite pieces from some faraway land overseas, we are only giving out more CO2 emission to our planet because the further the shipping the more fossil fuel is required.
The previous paragraphs only touch the tip of the iceberg of an otherwise very multidimensional issue that correlates to both global warming and human rights violation. You might also notice how many of the factors surrounding this problem also comes from us, consumers, the seemingly insignificant civilians. But, humanity has made immense social advancements such as Extinction Rebellion’s campaign to end London Fashion Week in response to how environmentally damaging the fashion industry has been and Greenpeace’s attempts to raise awareness regarding the risks in participating in the Black Friday shopping event (a foreign event where huge sales are put on stores in order that consumers haphazardly spent their money on items with huge discounts). Albeit these examples are cultures from western society, our hopes remain that Indonesia starts raising awareness on the urgency in taking part in this Sustainable Fashion movement.
  1. In developing countries, an estimated 168 million children aged 5 to 14 are forced to work.
  2. Sweatshops do not alleviate poverty. The people who are forced to work there must spend the majority of their paycheck on food for their families to survive.
  3. When chemicals used in making synthetic dyes find their way into water bodies, they affect human health and cause the death of water ecosystems.
  4. Metals such as lead have been known to cause neurological damage in young children.
Contents by: Davin (MCA Team CIMSA Indonesia 2019-2020)
Designed by: Vanessa (MCA Team CIMSA Indonesia 2019-2020)
Sources and suggested readings:


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