Fast Fashion is back in the news for all the wrong reasons.
No, not because of the famously terrible working conditions, contributions to pollution or shockingly bad wages. But because Kim Kardashian mentioned fast fashion on social media and specifically only how it’s really unfair on her and her very rich friends.
Going through old fitting pics & found this gold look that Kanye made for me for my Miami trip last summer (I went w the neon vibes instead) P.S. fast fashion brands, can you please wait until I wear this in real life before you knock it off? 😂 pic.twitter.com/MZiGLmC0yI
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) February 8, 2019
When this first popped up on the newsfeed, I was willing to give Kim the benefit of the doubt. After all, she’s recently been a pretty powerful voice for those fighting the prison system in America. So, when I scrolled through her Tweets (which she ironically chose not to thread, even though she was talking about clothing) and then read her Instagram post, I was sure I’d see her addressing the big issues around fast fashion.
LOLZ but not really. She’s a rich person, I don’t expect big things from rich people.
I’m sure SHE thinks she addressed the impacts of fast fashion, by talking about how it affects her, her very rich husband and also other designers who are probably also very, very rich.
I’ve watched these companies profit off my husband’s work for years and now that it’s also affecting designers who have been so generous to give me access to their beautiful works, I can no longer sit silent.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) February 19, 2019
But we’re here now, so let’s talk fast fashion.
Yes, it sucks that designers have their work ripped off. But if we’re talking “blood sweat and tears….”, aside from absolutely appalling conditions, sweatshop workers are paid incredibly low wages. Oxfam reports that in China (the main supplier for Australia), they make around 93 cents an hour. In the Indonesian factory that supplies major brands, including Ivanka Trump’s, the workers take home 2.3 million rupiah a month – that’s around $220 AU).
If human suffering doesn’t mean much to you, how about the environment? You don’t need to be a tree hugger to not want the world to turn into a plastic choked mess, with poisoned water (unless you’re a Captain Planet villain). Fast fashion contributes to landfills around the world and pollutes waterways due to the materials and chemicals used to make the clothes.
Don’t care about low wages in other countries or the environment because you really think you’ll do better in a Mad Max-style future? Or (more likely) you find the talk about fast fashion really stressful because you know you don’t really have a choice in whether you buy fast fashion because you, like most other people, are on a budget and you’re just trying to get through the day? Well, my fellow worker, then take a look at wage stagnation, rising cost of living and the unequal distribution of wealth are likely contributing factors, when you find you actually don’t have an option other than cheap clothes.
Fast fashion may sound like a problem we can’t fix, but it is. We can make sure we don’t just wear something once. There are devices you can get for your laundry to collect the plastic in your clothes. There’s clothing recycling bins. Instead of chucking out clothes, we can donate them to charity.
Rich people have power and influence and if they’d just use a bit of their power, influence (and money) to make changes, we’d all be better off. Just don’t rely on it because that’s not what rich people do.
Kim isn’t a bad person because she’s rich, but she has the privilege of never having to be informed. Rich people can pick and choose which poor people problems they can champion. Rich people can Tweet or give a nice speech and people will listen. Rich people can prioritise their rich friends and family hurt feelings, over a mother slaving in a sweatshop. Rich people are like that because rich people have, in general, always been like that.
And Kim Kardashian is nothing if not on-brand.