Featured Graphic by Alicia Churilla
The world of fast fashion can be epitomized by the infamous event of Boxing Day. Shoppers crowd store entrances, impatiently waiting for the chance to haul home cheap finds at a wildly unsustainable cost. December 26th is a day not only tirelessly prepared for by mistreated staff in far removed fashion factories, but also by the front line retail workers who dread the inevitability of serving swarms of frustrated customers.
As a full-time student, the appeal of low low prices is quite obvious. However, as a retail employee and soon-to-be fashion industry entrant, the conflict between encouraging economic activity versus responsible practices in the fashion industry becomes more of a difficult choice to make.
The increased spending during the period between Black Friday and Boxing Day is almost unavoidable, as gifts, travel expenses and entertainment costs accumulate over the holiday season. Yet, the less crucial, but increasing cost of self shopping contributes substantially to holiday spending as well. It seems almost ironic how these monumental days of mass consumerism are situated promptly after Thanksgiving and Christmas – the two holidays centred around the spirit of giving and appreciation. It’s as if the fashion industry exists in opposition to any compassionate behaviour. Thus, fashion is frequently associated with selfishness and greed.
Needless to say, thoughtless consumption, as opposed to participating in the suggested behaviour of generosity, is objectionably less admirable. However, the inherent negative reputation of the fashion industry at this time of year still seems undeserved. During the early morning drive to the mall for the dreadfully anticipated Boxing Day shift, the phrase “products don’t change your life” was broadcasted around the nation on CBC radio. This of course, is the opposite sentiment to what fashion students are taught to believe. The power of a well designed product can indeed be life changing. Examples of this can be seen in the adaptable garments made by Izzy Camilleri, Thinx underwear and activewear and LYRA’s modest swimwear–just to name a few. And although, not all purchases may have quite as drastic an impact, many products and garments empower their customers in smaller, yet equally valid ways. It is difficult to measure the benefits of confidence, belonging and self-expression. However, clothing can and does provide these benefits for many people.
In conclusion, unpacking a few thoughts behind Boxing Day may have revealed more questions than answers. Yet, with these thoughts in mind we can all act as more informed consumers regardless of how holiday budgets are spent on next year’s December 26th.