How Fast Fashion Manipulates People

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What is most responsible for the death of sweatshop workers in Rana Plaza and chromium pollution in the river near to Kanpur? You will never consider the latest H&M shirt in the store is made by one oppressed worker who was stitching the shirt with their lives. And you would not think the environmental cost of that shirt as well. More importantly, you do not notice that famous brand companies are benefiting from you over again. In “The True Cost,” the executive director of “War on Want,” John Hilary once says “When everything is concentrated on making profits for the big cooperation, what you see it’s the human rights, environment, worker’s right get lost ultimately” (Hilary). Consequently, primary fashion companies are most responsible for the absence of the human right in sweatshops and environmental pollution in production, for they oppress sweatshop workers, make their working condition insecure and exacerbate pollution in factories. All these problems need to be solved by consumers ourselves, or we ultimately make the decision.

Firstly, fashion companies oppress workers in sweatshops. Some people believe that these major fashion companies have created many sustainable working positions which are better than other worse jobs for the poor people. However, the job in the sweatshop is not even official and guaranteed. In the “The True Cost,” the director Andrew Morgan points out that “Because major brands do not officially employ the workers,” they are all “remaining free responsibility” (Morgan). Then, some big brands such as H&M can overuse their unauthorized workers and force them work for extra time. In the article “H&M factories in Myanmar employed 14-year-old workers Publisher”, author Sarah Butler exposes that even “children as young as 14 toiled for more than 12 hours a day”. Except child labor issues, they are violating the Article 24 of UDHR which claims “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure time.” Apparently, those fashion companies cheat those workers, and studiously exploits their resources by taking advantages of them illegally.

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Secondly, those major fashion companies cause insecure working condition in their sweatshops. The opponent thinks that garment factories are mainly responsible for the safety of workers for they are the owner of working places. However, factories are also victims who are squeezed by major corporations financially. According to the Dhaka garment factory owner Arif Jebtik in “The True Cost,” “every day they oppress me, and I oppress my workers” (Jebtik). Conseq uently, factories have not enough financial aid to repair buildings to make the factory safer, and turn out to disregard safety measure of factories. When force factories to have lower and lower cost by major brands, the additional cost is the lives of workers, which is against Article 23 of UDHR that mentions “Everyone has the right to work in a safe environment” (UDHR). Then, factory disaster in Rana Plaza happened and killed more than one thousand people. Such inevitable accident is directly resulted by not enough payment from the companies. After that, H&M company immediately promised to change worker’s condition. But it deliberately slowed their steps down. In the article “Retailers Like H&M and Walmart Fall Short of Pledges to Overseas Workers,” Rachel Abrams reveals their “ progress on improving conditions at the factories has been too slow,” and they “continue to benefit from unfair and dangerous labor practices.”

Those major fashion companies rather increase their sales by advertising than to change worker’s working condition. In the article “Who Really Benefits From Sweatshops”, David Wilson reveals that if the companies “cut marketing down”, then “the savings would certainly be enough to allow for doubling the wages of many assembly workers and creating safe conditions in their factories”. It expresses those companies do have opportunities to change worker’s working condition and help them get out of danger. But they choose to maximize profit by advertising, which is clear that they regard human lives as substitute parts which can be replaced by other cheap working force.

Pollution in particular region has been exacerbated by those fashion companies. The opponent may hold the view that local issues of pollution should be cared and treated by local government and protection agencies. However, the companies have led the pollution to be unbearable to the region during fast fashion trend. In “The True Cost,” Siegle mentions “have 52 seasons a year” and “have something new coming every weeks”, exposing such high demands of the companies. That will force factories to produce more and more harmful and destructive chemicals to their environment. The city Kanpur, the capital of leather- export, has been developed by increasing demand for cheap leather from brand companies. However, the founder Rakesh Jaiswal illustrates “the local environment, soil, the only drinking water source and groundwater source are contaminated with chromium” (Jaiswal). It shows enormous negative effect led by the demand of the companies. Companies maximize their profits by increasing supply of factories without considering other significant output of their products.

Massive pollution from production is being ignored by the companies. In “The True Cost”, Mike schragger says, “A lot of resources that we used to make our clothing are not accounted in the cost of producing those clothes, such as water that used to produce”(schragger). It illustrates that water pollution is not accounted by the companies. But they brought all businesses to the people living close to factories as well as negative output from factories. Workers in factories have neither advanced filtering equipments to reduce the pollution nor ideas of harmfulness of pollution. As they ignore such harmfulness, they will undertake all the consequences at last.

Admittedly, many factors affect consumers making decisions. Either the effect of Advertising or “celebrity effect” affect consumers to purchase more from fast fashion industry. However, consumers should assume the greatest responsibility in restoring environmental problems and human right violation, for they ultimately make the decision for the whole process, and have the power to change the situation by changing their mind. As LUCY Siegle advocates in “The True Cost,” the fast fashion industry will stop its negative effect only if “All consumers asking ethical questions, all consumers asking quite simple questions about where their clothes are from” (Siegle)

In conclusion, major fashion companies should take most responsibility for what sweatshop workers have experienced and the pollution produced by factories, for they have violated human rights of sweatshop workers and exacerbated the pollution. As the consumer, if we start to care about “real cost” behind clothes and say “No” to clothes from unqualified sweatshops, then the fast fashion industry would be slow down. Those major fashion companies in the industry would reflect on themselves and find “the true cost” as well.

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How Fast Fashion Manipulates People. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from
“How Fast Fashion Manipulates People.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
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