The FAST FASHION trap & how to escape | #whomademyclothes | Justine Leconte

Fast fashion is a quite recent phenomenon and it has completely changed the fashion industry. Here is my view on what fast fashion is, what the business model behind it is & what you and me can do, as individual consumers, to resist its negative effects and make informed decisions for ourselves.
I had a lot to say about it so the video turned out quite long… forgive me!
Oh, and if you wondered if a kid was screaming in the background, yes, the neighbors’ kids were extremely active during the entire filming time…

Further readings:
Project 3-33
MyGreenCloset reporting about her experience doing it for a full year:
#whomademyclothes (e.g. on Instagram) and the Fashion Revolution every year in April
The building that collapsed and killed over 1000 people in 2013: Rana Plaza, in Bangladesh
Book: Overdressed, the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion, by Elizabeth Cline

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31 thoughts on “The FAST FASHION trap & how to escape | #whomademyclothes | Justine Leconte

  1. I don't know if I am the first Bangladeshi to comment here. But in case someone else hasn't said it here before me, I will just try to address the Western consumers of Bangladeshi clothes, " please watch what you are buying." I know a lot of "educated" Bangladeshis will tell you the garment industry is increasing our GDP. But unfortunately, based on my experience that GDP has little to do with the whole country's economic situation.
    Bangladesh was an agricultural country before this fast fashion madness in the West. I am sorry to generalize, but that's the truth of it.
    Growing up, I didn't see a polluted Dhaka city that was unthinkable crowded by garment workers from the rest of the country. Neither did I see the incredible rise of wealth- gap. Both these are the blessings of fast fashion.
    Those things aside, just on the humane issue, when you buy these clothes, you keep feeding this evil chain.
    If you could just see the working conditions of those factories, you would feel like you are wearing other people's lives for two weeks. An average factory worker can work for 2 to 3 years before getting sick. There are 2 toilets for about a 120 female workers on a floor, and same for men. Not to mention, to catch a restroom break is incredibly difficult. When there's a sudden order for a bulk of clothes, the factory owners lock the workers in the building for the night. And yes, they don't pay overtime for these "sudden" needs. There's more, these workers are generally women. Because men tend to ask for "a little more", you can pay women less and control them easily. So factories prefer female workers.
    On the safety issues, I am guessing you have at least heard of Rana Plazza. Well, there has been many fires in many garment factories throughout decades. Rana Plazza just took enough lives to catch the attention of the media worldwide. Numerous times fires in garment factories have killed people, or injured them.
    I remember passing a garment factory everyday on my way to school. And for those seven years, I have never seen that factory's 'immergency exit' open. It just used to be there. One time as I was coming back from school our rickshaw stopped, there was a crowd of people in front of the building, they were scared and fighting. some were trapped inside the building. There was a fire in the building, some workers ran out and the security locked the door with the rest inside. The manager said, "there is no fire. The workers will steal our clothes". So some of those scared workers were trapped inside while the others were wailing outside. Luckily, that fire didn't kill anyone. But not many were as lucky. there have many such incidents that escaped the notice of international media.
    After leaving the country, I see people buying Zaara, H&M etc clothes. Many people are unfortunately addicted to buying new clothes.
    In class, as our teacher was explaining why we should not buy unneccesarily, I noticed many people don't want to hear it. They say, "I am just one person, if I stop buying, it will do nothing".
    But it does matter. As long as you keep buying, they will keep producing in the same brutal way. Yes, you are one person,
    yes, it's our country's duty to enforce labour law, yes, other people will keep buying it, but can you honestly say that you wouldn't mind if your home was burning and your neighbour came with a cigarette to light from the fire?
    If you say you would, then don't add even a single drop of fuel into this already huge fire. This is more serious than it looks to you from outside – I know. And the money you pay gets in the pockets of Bangladshi rich men, whose families live abroad in luxury, you are not improving the economy here, either. So please, don't buy cheap clothes to feel good and throw them in a month.
    Sorry for the huge comment. But I hope it reaches at least one person.

  2. Oh my God! I had no idea how dark it was to be fast fashion
    I will never buy from these brands again: I do not want to support the exploitation and slavery of children in Bangladesh or wherever. I wonder how I could be so frivolous!

  3. Omg this is the video and this is the channel I was looking for but didn't know where to look for it! I was so tired of the fast fashion industry and the pollution that it causes, and the workers problem is another one that adds to it. But i didn't know how to choose my wardrobe, and so many other questions, and now I'm seeing your good tips 🙂

  4. Hello from Spring Lake, MI, USA! I cannot stop binge watching your videos! This one in particular is so interesting to me. I enjoyed the content very much as I have recently stumbled upon the idea of slow versus fast fashion. In some ways, I have been a participant of the slow movement for years – unwittingly. We are a family of nine so buying second hand was more of a necessity at one time, but now I must admit that we continue to enjoy thrift and consignment shops so,ply because we want to. All of our kids, ages 20-8, as well as my husband and I, have wardrobes that are 75% second hand, yet filled with high quality, good looking, and stylish clothing. I am really glad that my kids see the value in this, and glad that we can contribute to a more economical, ethical and environmentally friendly way to enjoy fashion. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun.

    On another note, at 41, I have a pretty good idea of what suits me and what I like in terms of clothing, and love your French styling tips. Dressing well is important to me and I think that you are a really good resource for helping me refine my skills and my wardrobe even further. I’m not a minimalist by any means, but I am learning to slow down a bit when it comes to m y purchases.

  5. People in Bangladesh, Pakistan etc work in those factories because the wages and life are better than the alternative – grinding rural poverty. It's no different from how things developed in the Industrial, Revolution in Britain – English workers moved from horrific rural poverty where starving was quite the possibility to work in factories and cotton mills for obscene hours and low wages but they did it because it WAS a step up not matter how hard the work. With time, came dissatisfaction, organization and labour unions and in more time, a ban on child workers under a certain age, and so on. Horrible industrial accidents resulted in scandals and safety laws being introduced. Wages rose, people's prospects improved and living standards rose in the course of time. It happens organically. My own grandmother (I am 48) was put in a cotton mill in Lancashire to work at age 11 in 1914. Her daughters stayed in school, got scholarships and went to college and became teachers in due course. Lifted out of poverty in one generation. You are not solving the problems of emerging economies by putting poorer, uneducated people out of work and back on the land to starve and be even poorer out of sanctimony about their conditions which do not match worker conditions in highly developed ecoomies like France or Germany. Some of these jobs allow parents to send their kids to school for the first time. Those kids then won't have to work in factories later on. That's how it works. Take away the work and nothing improves.

  6. The thing is that so many higher end fashion brands produce their clothes in exactly the same factory as "fast fashion" brands. I think it was a top from Mexx (?) that turned out to be made in the same factory as a well known budget brand. So for me, it has absolutely nothing to do with the price but more with the brand itself. The main problem is that in reality, most of us have only €… to spend on their clothes for the summer and because they've gained or lost weight, they need a lot of new pieces. When the only available brands that have an actual store where you can actually try the clothes on and that also caters to your own personal style, you often end up in a store from an international brand that doesn't pay their workers well. Now you can travel 2 hours to a big city to find more stores and therefore more chances of nice clothes from good brands or spend that time doing other things. My point is that for so many of us, fairtrade brands are too difficult to find or don't have the sort of style you're looking for. In the end, the game will only change when brands actually change their policy, become more transparant and treat their workers better. If they boldly advertise that and they find that brands like that sell just as well because people appreciate that the clothes they make don't have human tears attached to it, then and only then will we actually move on to a better fashion industry. As much as we as individuals want to do to change, it is often too difficult to fit in our daily lives. I know that seems like a cheap excuse but that is actually the reality for so many of us.

  7. I think for China it's highly diverse, for some factories that are better controlled the quality and the treatment for workers are actually not bad while others can be absolutely horrifying still. I think getting a good sourcing agency and having regular quality control is very important. China had been developing and very often factories can no longer hire workers if they're paying too little, in fact because of the overall higher education level in China nowadays factories have real problems hiring workers. That's also why other south east Asian countries are now rising in the cheap production industry

  8. I love this topic, thank you, thank you thank you. I did not know about this 2 week in store out of style 2 weeks, beyond the horrific sweatshop stories we all familiar with, but the depth and breadth of this are​ shocking. I am even more glad that I have high-end taste Wolford, Jil Sander, Arche, Aquatalia but I buy almost entirely on eBay, charity shops, resale stores.

  9. Thank you for sharing and I love all of your tips on this matter. I am a fan of project 333 and I am moving away from fast fashion as well. I try to buy most of my clothing items from thrift stores and I love the work that you are doing in your own fashion label 💕

  10. One of my favourite Australian brands (my own country), Forever New, sells a lot with a tag saying "made in Bangladesh." I was aware of the accident in Bangladesh years ago. I figured they would have to be making sure their products made there must be ethically produced. I guess it's not a definite thing.

  11. Justine, first of all, thank you for making videos about your passion and topics like this. I was shocked that this video was 2 years ago and felt I bought some from fast fashion shops without thinking twice. Cheap doesn't definitely mean a good choice because of these companies' way of doing business. I also felt like you were about to cry at the latter part of this video discussing the Bangladesh incident. Shows you have a good heart. Nice to know that designers like you still exist.

  12. Wow, I didnt realize Zara was fast fashion. I'm glad I didnt buy a denim jacket from them the other day.

    I'm an ignorant guy that was looking for a "nice sturdy denim jacket" 🤷‍♂️ good thing I decided on finding a jacket on ebay instead!

  13. Fashion is something needs to be well-studied and well-plannned. The fact is, not matter our fashion craze, we will always end up in a wasteful cycle of buy throw, buy throw. Fast fashion is merely the solution for middle class consumers who will not spend $200- $300 for a single item. So there needs to be a solution. One solution is tailoring garments from chosen fabrics, as is popular in India. I certainly support independent designers and labels who ethically control the whole process, so such items can be seen as an investment. I find trends to be very arbitrary and it is unrealistic for the average person to follow trends month to month, year to year. I personally need to adhere to a universal aesthetic that I personally enjoy regardless of what magazines are putting out there. Nothing wrong with making a hobby out of fashion, but we also need to keep it real. Quality is crucial as no use in a garment that fades or rips soon. Ever since turning 22 and earning my own salary post college, I have been building my wardrobe with a combination of cheap and expensive clothes. Over my lifetime. Or at least since 16, I have probably gone through thousands of garments. I am 26 now. Yes fashion is a very fun passtime, but requires considerable consciousness and effort to look your best, feel your best, and do best.

  14. I'm 40 and i'm not a consumer of fast fashion. But I as on my 20's. I'm not the target consumer anymore. For me fashion is like other consumable, you have different markets and different products. You can not afford to paid 500$ for suit when you are in 20's. Of course they will buy fast fashion, it fit they budget and still trying to find their style. But i would not worry too much about fast fashion, i don't know a single woman in my office that wear a cheap piece because at some point your taste involve and closet also. But I still have few piece of fast fashion especially for summer trend like for vacation maxi dress.

  15. Justine, I am so grateful to have found your channel! A commenter on another YouTuber's channel referenced your name, so I looked you up. I am learning a lot from you already, about the ethics and aesthetics of fashion. I appreciate so much that you bring together these two aspects of building and wearing a wardrobe that really works. This video – and Mahbuba Akhtar's pinned comment also – is particularly important.

  16. What you say is very relevant. I'm from Argentina and althought it's technically a third world country, the labor laws are quite strict. So to cut costs, there have a lot of recent cases in which illegal factories produced clothes with Bolivian immigrants in terrible, borderline slavery or downright slavery conditions. So, when i see clothes that are suspiciously cheap, i do not buy. But it is getting difficult because even expensive and good quality brands have been involved in these practices to cut costs and increase profit. So I get more careful everytime and even started sewing and knitting my own clothes. Sad but true that slavery is still a reality for many. But also many ethical brands are appearing, and also "talleres protegidos" (protected workshops) in which you know that people who are poor are well treated and payed a fair amount for their work. Also many work cooperatives formed by "ex-slaves" are being formed that produce in ethical conditions.

  17. I understand the people commenting that can’t afford to buy anything other than fast fashion because I’m in the same boat, but it seems like they are completely missing the point. There is nothing “snobbish” about what this woman is saying. Did everyone conveniently skip the part where she said the solution is to buy vintage and secondhand items? I’d say that’s way more affordable than buying from even the cheapest fast fashion shop, and it is a viable option for anyone with access to thrift and secondhand shops. You don’t have to have money to be part of the solution. And if you can’t, then you can’t, but nobody said you were a bad person because of it or is trying to guilt you despite your circumstances, that’s coming from yourself. Also, I didn’t hear her once say the solution was to purchase expensive items from top designers, so I don’t know where those comments are coming from either.

  18. This video is mind-blowing to me. You motivated me to research about the whole issue. I read through everything from articles and media coverage about the topic, to a whole bunch of "About us" on fashion company's page to find out if they are following any ethical and/or sustainable direction. I am convinced that immediate actions have to be made. (Honestly, I feel guilty of being a fast fashion victim for almost two decades. I wish I watch your video earlier, but taking actions late is better than not doing anything, right?) Besides re-assessing my wardrobe and planning smart laundry, I was also trying to explore relatively ethical and sustainable brands and to avoid relatively unethical and unsustainable ones.
    Both tasks are challenging, but the former is slightly more doable for me. I currently live in Hong Kong, the capitol of materialism, where people believe in newness and product variety (hence its name of a "shopping paradise"). The awareness of the issue is still low. I am delighted to find that even though many relatively ethical and sustainable brands have no shops in Hong Kong, they ship internationally (I finger-crossed that their packaging will be more environmental-friendly.) I also found a social enterprise, a consignment store, that seeks to empower middle-aged female workers. Buying from these consignment stores or thrift shops of second-hand clothing is at least a way to stop buying fast fashion directly (even though I will probably find 2nd hand products of fast-fashion brands at those stores). However, compared to, say the US and Europe, there are not many 2nd stores clothing stores in Hong Kong. There are also no regular, popular and large-scale flea markets of 2nd hand clothing.
    The latter task gave me some headache. I found many sites that rate fashion brands on their ethics. However, different sites have very different ratings. (For example, this site gives Zara an "A-": Also, some articles argue that these well-known fast-fashion brands are improving. Are there any trust-worthy organizations that you can point us to (i.e. ones that are independent of the fashion brands and their affiliated governments, generally regarded as credible by experts in the fashion industry like you, and that will assess the ethics of most fashion brands continuously and constantly). Until there are such guidelines, I can only rely on my instincts that you helped us develop. Namely, if I continue to see 5-dollar t-shirts and weekly restocking in those stores, I will have to avoid them. As of July 24th, 2018, I still have to avoid Zara.

  19. Great video. Everyone should stop being politically correct and start raising questions about this world.
    Now, I don't buy fast fashion because it looks like SHIT after first wash and doesn't last. I buy classic cuts, good quality fabric and wear my pieces for years.
    My girlfriend on the contrary buys a lot of fast fashion, because she married this rich fuck she doesn't love. She is unhappy and closing /shopping/ acquiring shit is the only thing she can control in her life. She has a room full of clothes and nothing to wear, because it all look like shit after first wash.

  20. The one thing i found to be very effective when it comes to rejecting fast fashion is to just. Stop buying. Chances are there is already way too much stuff in your closet, so going though it all, getting rid of (donating, selling, etc.) all the clothes you do not care for and sticking with the rest will probably last you quite a while. You might even find things in your wardrobe you completely forgot about and therefore reclaim them. I bought 5 things since the beginning of 2017 and dont plan on getting anything new any time soon.

  21. Hi
    After watching your video it got me thinking, I know fast fashion is not high quality I know that once I enter to a zara shop, you can see though out the cardigans, but in my case,here in Mexico, do to the dollar fluctuation is not even so cheap after all. 5 dollars translate in a 100 pesos, (minimum wage is $80 pesos) and maybe more cuz prices get the tax included, so its going to be sad to say this but in some cases fast fashion here is a bit expensive.
    So thirdworlish for me to say
    Thanks for your videos, there have been inspiring.
    Oh I almoust forgot, forever 21 has a few stores here, but some had to close because we see it as too expensive for what it is.

  22. when I need clothes for a party or a special event I notice that all stores sell the same things and by consequence all the women are dressed the same way whether the color or the dress suites them or not.I recently went to a wedding and they all looked like clones. it s so boring for the eyes so to speak. materials are bad quality like plastic and clothes have high prices so it s not worthed. I absolutely have no choice than to buy the fabric myself and ask my tailor to make my clothes at least when I need something special. it takes more time indeed but I prefer original clothes rather than the uniforms that zara H&M C&A etc sell to the masses. fashion these days does not allow individuals to express themselves. it s a pity because everything revolves around the money and the profit these companies make exploiting people. I believe we should start educating ourselves and stop helping this industry to destroy our individuality. good job Justine!

  23. If the luxury brands and designers brand can be less expensive, of course people will buy clothes other than fast fashion. You see there are a lot of people trying to survive even in America. If you don't want them buy cheap clothes, what should they wear? They simply can't afford those expensive ones.

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