A 20% off, timeless, green parka but, have I read the fine print, did I know what I was getting into before I clicked ‘continue to payment’? Did I research how sustainable my purchase was or was I sold by design and price alone?
In films we are taught, what women do is shop, craving their fast fashion fix: whether like Carrie, Charlotte and Samantha [Bushnell, C. Star, D. (1998–2004) HBO Sex In The City] or Cher [Heckerling, A. (1995) Clueless] who can afford luxury labels or those of us like Rebecca Bloomwood [Jackson, T. Firth, T. Alpert, K. (2009) Confessions Of A Shopaholic] who cannot, we all contribute to the production and consumption machine ‘impacting those at the bottom end of the production line.’ [Black, S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008, pg14)]
However, with TV and Film wielding publicity, why do we never see characters checking the label for FairTrade logos or being proactive about where their garments have come from; like those who work for equality at People Tree? [http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/buying-fairtrade/cotton/people-tree] The answer: because people ‘feel helpless in the face of such enormous issues.’ [Black, S Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008, pg243)]
My Parka’s label reads:
Made in China
Think of the environment
Shell – 100% cotton
Lining – 100% polyester
Cotton: ‘The most universal textile fibre, associated with purity and positive natural qualities; employing approx. 27million cotton farmers worldwide’ [Black. S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008) pg107,113]
So, cotton must be good: it makes babygrows, jeans and my parka; and surely the high employment means cotton is the holy grail of fibres!? Unfortunately, ‘cotton is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world, using as many as one-fourth of all pesticides made.’[http://www.howstuffcompares.com/doc/c/cotton-vs-polyester.htm]
In addition, production, manufacture and dying use extensive amounts of water, energy, and toxic chemicals: further harming the under paid cotton pickers and sweat shop workers, mainly from China, India and the US.
Polyester: ‘Is now the largest single fibre group within global textile production.’ [Black. S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008) pg150] And why not, when: polyester is ‘extremely strong; highly durable; wrinkle resistant;’ [http://www.whatispolyester.com/] and has superior water, wind and environmental resistance [http://www.howstuffcompares.com/doc/c/cotton-vs-polyester.htm]
However, polyester is used because it is cheap, and perfect for fast fashion, but energy costs and carbon footprints throughout synthesizing and manufacturing greatly undermine its economic value.
In conclusion, fibres don’t have one right answer, but it is the human element that collectively we can change. Designers should create beautiful, ethically sourced garments and it is buyers influencing the designer’s production, if we all stopped shopping in Marks and Spencer’s, DKNY, GAP and Converse until they improved their sweatshop labourers’ conditions and paid all minimum wage, they would soon listen to what the buyer has to say. [http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/28/sweatshops-supplying-high-street-brands (21/12/2014)]
– Jackson, T. Firth, T. Alpert, K. (2009) Confessions Of A Shopaholic
– Bushnell, C. Star, D. (1998–2004) HBO Sex In The City
– Heckerling, A. (1995) Clueless
– Black, S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008), pg14
– Black, S Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008) pg243
– Black. S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008) pg107,113
– Black. S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008) pg150
– http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/28/sweatshops-supplying-high-street-brands (21/12/2014)
– http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/fashion/celebrity-fashion/2010/05/13/sex-and-the-city-our-favourite-looks#!image-number=1 [21/12/2014]