There is an issue that is not happening to many of us and about which we want to talk today. Consumerism in the world of fashion is becoming a more than worrisome phenomenon. Unfortunately we are talking about something more than a compulsion. We are facing a phenomenon that has been studied in depth from social psychology.
The world of fashion, especially in the West, has changed drastically in a few years. What we see is only the tip of the iceberg of a problem of international magnitude and of devastating consequences for a very important part of the population.
The extraordinary documentary The True Cost, brilliantly directed by Andrew Morgan and recently released on Netflix, shows us the true price of a chilling reality.
The truth is that, for some years, what we perceive is that we can buy a lot more clothes because prices have fallen drastically. That, which seemed good news for almost everyone (and some space in the tight economies that many face today), turns out to be one of the most lethal economic strategies that humans have known today.
Why is our clothes now more affordable?
In the last decade we have seen a significant decline in the price of garments. We had a slight idea that it was a consequence of globalization. Most of the fashion companies ended up working with countries like China, Bangladesh or Cambodia, where the cost of living is much lower than in the West, and therefore with a much lower production cost as well.
Many of us had the mental image of people working on the other side of the world, in countries that, precisely for this reason, should be in the middle of economic development. We saw the problem from our navel: they have taken the industry elsewhere and have left an important working hole here.
But the problem is much more serious. Because the workers who sew every day those clothes that we can now buy better than ever, are far from any kind of economic development. Neither present nor future.
Consumerism in the fashion world generated by large companies has created slave countries. Places in which the workers of the textile sector work endless days, in conditions more than painful and with all the laws of their country against. And they do it in exchange for miserable salaries that do not even allow them to cover the most basic needs.
What’s going on?
The big fashion brands arrive with very concise proposals to these countries. They are the ones who mark the production price.
If a factory can not assume a ridiculous production price, the corporation takes its proposal to any other country. In this way, owners of clothing factories and the governments of the countries themselves are forced to accept work for practically nothing.
Assuming that the biggest part of the pie is in the economic benefit of the production cost/final sale price, we find that millions of workers are doing their job practically for nothing. Meanwhile, the big fashion corporations are doubling and tripling their profits every quarter.
Consequences of consumerism in the world of fashion
To get an idea: in Cambodia, recently, the workers of fashion clothing companies demonstrated in the streets to ask for a salary increase up to 160 dollars per month. The government of their country attacked them using the armed forces and in a few days several workers were killed.
There are workers in Bangladesh who work for $ 12 a month. And they do it in the worst imaginable conditions, in collapsing buildings leaving thousands dead under the rubble.
Although it is true that in these countries the cost of living is lower than ours, those $ 12 a month do not give them anything. They can not give their children an education, they can not maintain minimally acceptable living conditions. In short, they can not leave a misery that has become a real prison for millions of people and their future generations.
The true price of consumerism in the world of fashion
The dyes used, the pesticides for the massive production of cotton fabric and the unhealthy conditions in which all these clothes are produced are having an impact on the environment and the health of millions of people that today we have no idea of its true scope.
All this is happening so that we can buy a 5 euro shirt, every week. We do it because as it only costs us 5 euros we do not value it. We can throw it away and buy another one whenever we want.
Large companies do not seem to intend to solve this. But the real question is, can we stop it? Can we start to become aware of the real price of the things we buy? In this life, the most important value is the money we can spend?
A shared illusion
This ugly reality has a lot of mirage. In our Westernized world we are at a time when the middle class has practically lost its status. You have lost purchasing power in things that are really important and necessary. It is increasingly difficult to access a home, a good health insurance or a good education.
However, the statistics show how we are still able to feel with purchasing power because we can go shopping and always arrive with a good offer at home. However, in the end it is still a hoax. And it is a self-deception that is literally costing human blood on the other side of the planet.
In short, we are the ones who consume. Without our compulsive purchases this ugly issue could not continue. Maybe it’s time to start becoming aware of what is behind each item we buy. To begin to value what we have and not throw it away quickly because “we can buy cheaper”. Sure we can; The question is, should we do it? That is our true power. One much more important than the purchasing power.