The impact of cheaply produced fast fashion is not only a serious blow to the environmental issues but also exploitation of human rights, says Elizabeth L. Cline in her book ‘Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion’.
According to Cline, the manufacturing facilities in the developing countries, which produce more than half of the garments that are being sold in the US, not only defy basic labour laws but also pollute the environment with their poorly managed factories.
Her book takes the readers to the sweatshops of China, Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic where clothes are being manufactured at a much lower cost, as compared to America, due to cheap wages and almost non-existent labour rights.
The writer elaborates further that how the consumers contribute to the vicious cycle of human rights exploitation through their impulse purchases at fast fashion retailers like H&M, Topshop and Forever 21.
In the introduction to the book, the author narrates an incident where she impulsively bought seven pairs of canvas shoes, $7 each, from Kmart, and how some of them never saw the light of the day. She emphasized her guilt by admitting “Before I could wear them all out, I got tired of them and the style changed, so I’ve got two pairs left taking up space in my closet.”
The book does not attempt to provide a solution to the problem; instead it tries to find the reason behind the high price of an ethically made designer dress and the low cost of a departmental store outfit.
Cline emphasizes that the habit of buying cheap clothing will not only ebb our sense of appreciation for fine craftsmanship but also our responsibility towards nature and humankind.
Cline, a Gerogia native who lives in New York, is going to deliver a lecture at Dalton State College on the evening of January 30, 2014.