Are these collections by known fast fashion labels considered ethical?
Fast fashion has come under fire in recent years for its unfair treatment of laborers and unsafe factory conditions. In addition, our desire for quick, cheap and disposable clothing is adding to polluted landfills. This in turn, compromises the environment and jeopardizes our health and safety.
Two labels that have come under fire for fast fashion are H&M and Asos. And in response to public outcry against fast fashion, they have created more ethical lines of clothing options. But what are we to make of an ethical line of clothing made by a fast fashion company?
H&M launched the “Conscious Collection” that includes items that are created with environmentally sustainable materials. And Asos created their “Made in Kenya” collection that makes garments in Soko Kenya, a factory that was created to give job opportunities to people living in this impoverished area.
At first, you might think that these companies are taking a step in the right direction. After all, they seem to be hearing the voices of those who are taking a stance against fast fashion. But others are not so easily appeased and wonder if this is just an example of large corporations “greenwashing” their image by presenting a more- eco-friendly stance to a concerned public.
On one hand, H & M and Asos making a small change is better than no change. And real change takes time. Louise McCabe, director of corporate responsibility at Asos said, “One of our internal mottos is, ‘Changing the way we buy so our customers don’t have to. So they don’t have to go, ‘Oh, is this from the Asos Eco range or the mainstream line?’ We’re trying to make progress across the board.”
Indeed, both companies are making strides in the right direction. H&M and Asos are now publishing their factory lists that is an important step towards accountability. And H&M has taken great efforts to properly manage chemicals. So then, what is the issue if they are making efforts towards a more eco-friendly way of operating?
Many believe that fast fashion remains ultimately unsustainable in the long run. Here it is in a nutshell: H&M produces a lot of clothing. They produce such a staggering amount of clothing each year that there is no technology that currently exists to completely recycle this amount of textiles. Yet, year after year, manufacturers like H&M and Asos create more and more items exponentially. For today at least, we don’t possess the ability to completely turn old clothes into new garments. This is causing a huge impact on the environment.
In addition, in 2016 H&M’s factory in Myanmar had 14 year old children working 12 hour days. Also in that same year, Asos was found to have 7 and 8 year old children working 60 hour weeks.
H&M and Asos are at least making an attempt at are more sustainable way of garment making. Other companies such as Forever 21 and Zara have not shown as much. So, at least for now, supporting their “ethical” lines is better than making purchases at other stores that haven’t done anything yet. But even better, try shopping at stores where you know items are created either locally or ethically. And even if an item costs more, it just might be worth it in the long run by allowing you to feel better about your purchase knowing it is a conscious one.
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