This is a must listen podcast about the environmental and labor concerns caused by fast fashion. Adam from Adam Ruins Everything speaks with Professor Laura McAndrews, who teaches textiles, merchandising and interiors at The University of Georgia, and who previously worked for 10 years in the fast fashion industry.
She gives an insider view on what fast fashion product developers do to intentionally create fashion that's cheap and not built to last. When working for companies like Gap and Urban Outfitters, she said that she was expected to intentionally buy low quality fabrics designed to fall apart, so we'd come back and buy more.
Laura's gives a great first hand account from the front lines of fast fashion about the problems she witnessed when working within it. She talks about her visits to factories in places like Bangladesh, where there weren't even bathrooms. She also admits that she was complicit and brainwashed into thinking these conditions were normal and OK—that paying workers in clothing rather than money, or seeing a 16 year old working the machines, was reasonable. She was being flown around the world first class at 25, making a lot of money, and didn't feel empowered to say anything or change anything. It wasn't until, as a graduate school student, she visited a factory in Honduras that was doing things better, that she started to wake up to the fact that things could and should be done differently.
Laura also says that thrift stores are not all they're cracked up to be either. Unsold clothing from thrift stores is often dumped into 3rd world countries, mainly Africa, which destroys local economies because put makers there out of business. An alternative is to donate to local donation centers that keep clothing within the country
Finally, Laura says that country of origin labels are problematic because most garments come from many different countries. She also says limiting globalization isn't the answer, because some countries are better than others at certain parts of the fashion supply chain. For instance Cambodia is spectacular at dyes and colors, Italy specializes in incredible machinery.
Give it a listen. You won't be disappointed.