The other day a friend's comment on Facebook called my attention and I've been thinking about it lately. Her comment went something along the lines of
"Since the opening everyone's running around with Primark bags, I'm so disgusted! Where does the clothing come from? Please read up on it!"
It is really hard to find out the truth about the circumstances under which c think ertan brands produce their items, but we're all clever enough to conclude that t-shirts for 3 € are most likely not fairtrade products that are produced under employee-friendly conditions. Instead they're probably from sweatshops in Bangladesh (or other poor countries) where people struggle to make a living with their really low wages - at least that's the worst case (and most often true) scenario.
I don't want to support this industry but I also don't want to be forced to spend 60 € on a t-shirt. Of course it's awesome to buy products that are 100% eco-friendly, fairtrade and were produced by sewers who get a decent wage but only if I can afford it.
At the moment my monthly income allows me to spend 50-100 € on clothing (or electronics or books or music or whatever luxury good I prefer). Yes of course I could buy cheaper groceries (but we have the same problem here: fairtrade and/or organic food is pricey), I could move to a cheaper flat and cut down on a million other things to save up for these fairtrade sweatshop-free brands which offer 60 € t-shirts - but hey no one can expect this from me, let's be realistic here! You might say I'm an egoistic bitch but I say there is a limit when it comes to sacrifices. 99% of the people in the world would never lower their life standards to improve the life of a sewer in Bangladesh because 99% of the people in the world are not Mother Teresa (that's my personal opinion, no official statistics by the way).
I'm not an egoistic bitch but I'm also not Mother Teresa, I just think there are other things we can do to indirectly boycot certain brands that exploit workers in poor countries: thrift shopping, upcycling and swapping.
It is only a small change but it's at least something to buy second hand clothes or upcycle or swap items.
I know it's ironic to post an outfit which includes Primark and H&M with such a post and I have to admit I bought this dress directly from Primark, but the cardigan, belt, shoes and bag are second hand. Sometimes I can't help but shop at the high street shops, however I try to mainly buy my clothing and accessories second hand on flea markets, in thrift shops or via Ebay. I've also swapped a lot in the last two years.
I think it's a really good thing that vintage clothing has become trendy again over the past years and that many people have developed an awareness of the fact that second hand does not mean shabby and worn-out.
Flea markets are so popular again now, they have been made more hip by adding live music, good food and organic lemonade stands. People are celebrating the reselling and buying of second hand stuff, the reuse, refurbishing and upcycling of old things. And the positive effect behind this new movement: we don't buy (as much) from high street shops and popular brands anymore.
Same thing with Etsy, DaWanda and similar websites: if you buy an item there it is handmade or second hand, you support small independent brands and self-employed designers and the money goes straight into their pockets.
Last but not least swapping: If you aks me it's the most genius concept ever. You can get rid of what you don't need anymore and get new things without even spending money. I once had the chance to talk to one of the founders of the very successful German swapping website Kleiderkreisel and she told me this idea for the website emerged out of the thought that it is wasteful and irresponsible to throw away clothes and spend money on new ones when you can swap instead.
I am interested in your opinions. Do you think about where the clothes come from when you buy them? Do you care or ignore the sweatshop problems in the fashion industry? Do you support fair brands and the higher prices for an overall better product and production quality?
Let me know what you think in the comments.
Happy Thursday! :)