It is widely agreed upon that each article of clothing carries its own set of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) implications, spanning from the choice of raw materials, the working conditions of laborers, to the ultimate fate of the garments after they are discarded.
Yet, a pressing inquiry lingers in the back of our minds, demanding our attention. If we were to momentarily set price aside, the critical question that must be addressed is whether the high fashion industry truly stands on a morally superior pedestal compared to the fast fashion counterpart. Can we confidently assert that paying several times more for a high fashion item guarantees that it was crafted by workers enjoying basic human rights? Is our choice predominantly rooted in ethical considerations, or is it primarily swayed by branding and marketing tactics?
The Daily Star, a prominent newspaper in Bangladesh, reports ongoing protests stemming from various garment factories. These protests have even escalated into clashes with law enforcement, resulting in the unfortunate loss of lives among the very individuals who were instrumental in producing our garments.
Another local publication, the Business Standard, reveals that employees labor in factories like Vision, MBM, Lodestar, and Saroj Garments, which manufacture clothing for international brands. While some media outlets have managed to identify a few of these client brands, the sources within these corporate entities often remain shrouded in secrecy.
Nevertheless, these protests should compel us to reconsider our stance not only within the fast fashion industry but also within the realm of high fashion. The underlying question we must confront is a straightforward one: Are these two domains genuinely distinct at all?