Is There Such a Thing as Ethical Affordable Fashion and Technology?

Photo credit: Telegraph/AFP

As bloggers and blog readers, we are ultimately drawn online in order to score ourselves the latest deals and investigate the newest fashion trends. As the demand for disposable fashion increases (a la Primark and H&M), are we perpetuating horrible conditions for people halfway around the world?

I love H&M. I love Primark. I used to love Forever 21, and sometimes find some staples there. But as a Holocaust scholar and human rights supporter, does this make me a hypocrite? I would deign to say that yes, it does. And while these are still some of my favorite places to shop, I believe as fashion bloggers and readers, we don't really do enough to shed light on this issue. Instead, it is often glossed over in favor of the £1 hair baubles you can find on the H&M sale rack.

This issue is in the back of all of our minds (well, if you're a socially conscious human being), but only really pops to the forefront when something drastic happens like the factory that collapsed in Bangladesh last year. This called for a ban on Primark, but obviously that didn't last long as the company is still thriving and fashion YouTubers and bloggers are still displaying their wares from it. And while H&M claims clothing can be both cheap and ethical, there are those in Cambodia who work in their factories that would disagree. According to RH Reality Check, 90% of women working in such factories are on $3 a day wages. This, they claim, is hardly enough to sustain once person throughout the day, much less an entire family. They scrimp for their food and rent out tiny apartments shared between several people just to make ends meet. H&M claims that by 2018, it will enforce an inattentive to pay workers a living wage, although it will be at the lower end of the scale. 

Despite these criticisms, Helena Helmersson, a former buyer in Bangladesh, had this to say about their overseas work (despite the factory's collapse):
 "'Made in Bangladesh' is something that I'm proud of. Our presence in Bangladesh is coming with so much positive impact if you think about the alternative jobs for women in Bangladesh."

Likewise, Apple, another product popular amongst all of us in the blogosphere, has also been under fire for poor overseas conditions. The Telegraph claims that Apple has been caught demanding workers put in 60-hour weeks and using child labor.

Often times, I feel absolutely powerless when it comes to this issue. Stores that claim an ethical stance are often deceptive when it comes to the treatment of workers. And when you're shopping on a budget and still want to look cute, H&M, Primark, New Look, Next...all of these stores seem like viable options. And with Apple, if you want to design, an Apple is really the way to go--and it has revolutionized so many of our modern lives. 

Is there really a way to live completely "cruelty free" when it comes to human rights, or would this mean only making your own garments out of material you have either had made for you or that you have made yourself? 

Although the alternatives, especially for disposable fashion, are few and far between, I am curious as to your thoughts on this as a reader of fashion blogs/viewer of fashion YouTube channels. Does this make you think twice about shopping at these stores or will you continue? Unfortunately for me, as I'm budget conscious, there seems to be very little alternative--which then magnifies the feeling of helplessness. But who knows, maybe if enough of us are aware of these issues, the companies will be forced to take a more proactive stand in creating a better (and equally fashionable world) for all of us.

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  1. I think the main thing I focus on is budget and I'm not a pure fashion blogger so I guess I feel less pressure? Great thought provoking post.

    Lizzie's Daily Blog

  2. I think it's really difficult, and many companies that claim they're ethical are far from it. Having an awareness and actually thinking about purchases before making them is important I think.

    Lizzy from Nomad Notebook

  3. I think ethical fashion is easier to find because you can buy clothing from your neighbour; you know its ethical because you know the person. But tech has to be mass produced in a factory, so its hard to be ethical.


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