Monday, June 27, 2011

Fast Fashion - The Debate Rages On...

Having read these 2 pieces on 'fast fashion' and making ethical shopping choices, I wanted to write a piece giving my views on this issue. But then both Pearl, from Fashion Pearls of Wisdom, and Jen, from Little Bird Fashion, wrote pieces which put it far better than I could.

Alongside recent reports of the BBC Panorama show having faked scenes of child labour for retail giants Primark, are reports of one of the world's biggest fashion icons, Kate Moss, wearing a Primark poncho on her hen weekend to the Isle of Wight Festival. 
Kate Moss is one of the most respected modern fashion icons and one of the highest earning models of our time. She is often sported wearing Chanel and Louboutin's and can well afford not to have to shop in Primark just to stay on trend. 

So what does this tell us? For one thing, I think it's pretty certain that Primark is here to stay. Gone are the days when telling someone that your dress is from Primark is done in hushed tones and with a hint of embarassment.

 There's a strange sense of pride with some people in letting someone know that they've paid a lot less for a dress that they might only wear a handful of times before you bore of the style, colour, or even size! Does this mean that we are being unethical in our choices? Or does this mean that we want to have the things that we see others have, but we don't necessarily have the means to invest in these pieces? 
Has it even got anything to do with our sense of style, or is it wanting to be seen with different pieces all the time? 
Image via

I often felt guilty buying in Primark, feeling that I was going against what morals I have.
For me, personally, I shop in Primark for the odd essentials. The sizing on most of their clothes simply don't suit me. I used to blame this on the cost of the clothes "oh well, you get what you pay for", but then I realised that sizing is an issue in a large number of shops, all in varying degrees of affordability (another post to come on that one!). 

However, as my previous post shows, I won't shy away from buying a whole outfit in there if the need arises. And perhaps, was I different shape or size, and the clothes fitted me better, I would buy whole outfits in there as often as I buy elsewhere. But the frequency of my purchases in there is irrelevant. 
As was stated by others, sometimes we simple don't have the funds to be able to invest in high quality pieces.
Sometimes shopping in Primark is the only option someone has if they need an outfit for a job interview, or a wedding, and don't have the funds to shop elsewhere. 

Perhaps now that Primark has made clear it's stance on ethical trading we can start to see some positive progress with retailers being honest with where their clothes have come from. As Pearl says "I will be blunt though, what I would like to see is some facts and figures from Primark and all the High St retailers as to how they can afford to sell things so cheaply whilst paying everyone in the chain a fair fee and still make a profit."

Maybe the way forward isn't to just avoid one store altogether, after all, this will do nothing to change the culture of 'fast fashion' and unethical trading. If one chain closes, another will see an opening in it's place. 

Maybe the way forward is for there to be some transparency in where our clothes come from. For clear legislature to be put in place so that WE, the consumers, can ask the questions about where our clothes come from, without having to pay through the nose for designer gear because we have been urged to equate cost with ethics.  Or without being made to feel guilty because we mightn't have the same income as someone able to buy somewhere slightly more expensive
After all, do we know where those clothes have come from either?


  1. We do not - especially as anything labelled 'Made in Italy' is of questionable provenance due to their flexible definitions of what that is exactly.

    There are also issues with buying 'vintage' due to the carbon footprint of some items. The fact that manufacturing standards and requirements were wildly different in the past means that many dyes and processes released (and probably still do in some cases) toxic waste.

    You're talking to your sister regarding sizing - I don't buy a lot there because a lot of items simply do not fit me properly. I think until we tackle the broader issues of profit and consumption in a very broad sense it is difficult to do the right thing by everybody and everything.

  2. I feel guilty buying it Primark too, but I usually only shop there for tights/socks/similar bits and bobs.

    Our waste when it comes to wearing things once or twice isn't great, even in tough economic times. Surely it's better to spend £40 on one dress you love and will wear lots of times than buying 4 £10 dresses from Primark that you'll throw away within the month?

  3. I did a Fashion Marketing module at my University and we did a powerpoint presentation on the issues surrounding shopping at Primark.

    I go in to Primark on the rare occasion but I can never seem to find anything that suits me.

    Its funny, I have friends that swear by it and find amazing items, but as soon as I go in, NOTHING!