Fast fashion. The term seems to be popping up everywhere you look these days – and rightly so. The phenomenon sustains an industry of cheap, disposable clothes, and an unsafe pace of production and waste – a pace which is especially unsafe for garment workers across the globe. Fast fashion drives overall prices down and opens workers up to exploitation such as forced overtime and poverty wages.
Most consumers don’t think much about production of their products, however many understand, at least somewhere in the back of their mind, that the workers manufacturing their products fall on the lower end of the pay scale. This low pay is frankly unfathomable for many consumers and most won’t give it a second thought. Labour Behind the Label is an organization aiming to bring awareness to these garment industry working conditions, and promote action and change in relation to worker and human rights. They run a series of initiatives throughout the year to fundraise and raise awareness, the chief of which is the Six Items Challenge.
A so-called “fashion fast”, this campaign is simple but effective. To participate, you select six key pieces from your wardrobe and pledge to wear combinations of those six items for six weeks straight. Now don’t worry too much – you can still have access to unlimited undergarments, accessories, pyjamas, and even workout gear if you need it, but your main articles of clothing remain the same. Though simple, the campaign forces you to consider what fashion means to you – and whether you need to keep up with ever-changing trends – as you become an active part of the effort.
The fast aims to challenge the increasing speed of consumption while raising funds to promote change in the movement towards better treatment of garment workers. Participants can sign up though the Labour Behind the Label website to formally pledge their involvement as well as create a personalized page to fundraise, and track effort and progress. 2017’s challenge starts March 1st and you can get involved at their website to learn more and create your page. You are encouraged to do your own research into the problems facing workers in garment manufacturing to inspire your support and participation.
The problems evident throughout the fashion industry are enabled by fast fashion which can only be combated by a reduction of pace in industry consumption and production rates. This doesn’t necessarily mean halting fashion industry involvement entirely, but rather being mindful of sustainable practices and human effects of current consumer practices. And overall, this is the goal of the six items challenge – to get people thinking about and acting on the effects of their wardrobes on the people who provide it.