Fashion Disaster: the odds are ever in your favour.

‘You can tell next season’s trends by looking at the colour of the rivers in China and Mexico,’ says Greenpeace’s Detox Fashion videoshort1 before launching into a Hunger Games type storyline animated in uber cool Manga style. I’m watching on my phone in bed when I should be getting on with something else. I sit back and wait to be entertained, but within seconds my eyes are welling up with passion and by the time the clip’s finished, I’m  punching the air and shouting “Revolution!” like those dashing young lads doomed to die beyond the barricade in Les Mis.

Greenpeace sure know how to tell it like it is.

For the next few days I go round telling everyone to get on YouTube and watch the clip. I even make Detox Fashion T-shirts from second-hand cast offs2

See, I’m with Miss Everdeen on this one, the whole butt kicking, arrow shooting way. I’m desperate for change - fierce about it. I wanna knock seven bells outta the system, holler ‘this is NOT alright’. I’ve got Detox Fashion tattooed right across my backside (well not quite but you get my drift, right?).

I. Want. CHANGE.


I’m sat on my comfy sofa, wearing my skinny fit jeans and my high street top and I’m not down with Katniss at all. I’m not on the outside looking in. I’m not being worked half to death to provide luxury lifestyles for Capitol dwellers.

I AM a Capitol dweller.

One of those naive smoke-screened cotton wool wrapped people sustained by the work and deprivation of 99% of the world’s citizens. No matter how much I bang on about green this and ethics that, I live in a world where virtually every choice I make is one of privilege. Privilege that has knock-on effects for the seven billion citizens of the world poorer than me (I’m in the top 1% on globalrichlist.com3 and I bet you are too).

How lucky I am!
How blessed!
Except it’s not luck is it?
Or blessing.
It’s exploitation.

And I sit here and pretend I don't see it, because what the hell can I do about it? 
And, anyway, I NEED all this stuff, don't I? Big brands have been pushing me a diet of ‘you need this, you need that’ since the day I was born, wet-nursing me as one of theirs through my childhood, teaching me to think things are important that are truly not important and all the while maintaining a smoke screen that hides the ugly truth from view.

I'm a product of accumulated marketing campaigns directing my desires and aspirations towards want want want (and if you think I’m going over the top here, wait til the Christmas toy ads come on and watch your children turn into insatiable plastic tat devourers4).

But then I hear about the Bangladesh factory collapse and it stops me in my tracks. I snap my purse shut and stop spending. Long term, though, I'll have to buy some things. So I watch carefully: Who failed to pay compensation to the families of the dead? Who are still refusing to sign up to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord?5 

It's not possible to boycott all offenders. In my reckoning, every big brand is guilty – cheap labour’s inherent in the high street fashion business model – it's just some have been 'lucky’ enough to have not been caught yet. I'm getting wise.

It’s gonna be a while before I can google 'fashion disaster' and get nothing but Britney Spears in double-denim, but until then, I vow to remember why the odds - as Effie Trinket says - are ever in my favour.

1Search for Detox Fashion at YouTube.com to watch the Greenpeace/Anime video.
2Greenpeace have decided not to produce Detox Fashion T-shirts as they can’t verify that the entire production process would be toxin free. If you’re going to make your own, use second hand T-shirts otherwise you’re defeating the object!
3You can find out where you sit on the global rich list by entering your salary anonymously on the globalrichlist.com website.
4I'm horrified to tell you the Doggy Doo game is for real!
5Whatever you think of Primark, it was one of the first brands to put up their hands after the Rana Plaza factory disaster, agree to pay compensation, and sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord. It’s taken until this week for Matalan (also using the factory) to bow to pressure and sign. Other implicated high street brands, including Walmart still refuse. You can find the list of brands signed up to the accord here. http://www.just-style.com/analysis/who-has-signed-the-bangladesh-safety-accord-update_id117856.aspx

Read last month's post: Where does my meat come from?

Emma is a columnist and feature writer for Liberti Magazine.

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