Thousands of people around the world waited hours for the opening of the H&M Balmain collection.
There were brawls and tug-of-wars inside the stores as people raced and snatched whatever they could get their hands on. The new Balmain collection was an "affordable" version of the Balmain brand; it had people's hearts racing and counting down days since its announcement.
Balmain x H&M clothes and accessories ranging from $17-$800 sold out in all storefronts and online within a few hours and made an appearance on eBay at more than double the retail price soon after. Occurrences of Balmain Brawls and H&M Stampedes swept social media and reminded consumers again that Fast Fashion is King and you totally missed out if you didn’t Balmain yourself out too.
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast Fashion is a relatively new term coined around the late 1990s by retailers to describe a new trend of fashion companies replicating haute couture runway clothes into affordable carbon copies as quickly as possible. It has democratized haute couture fashion for the masses and dramatically reduced the percentage of income people now spend on clothing. This has encouraged heightened consumerism and easy disposability.
We’ve all thought about the cost of clothing we buy, but how much does it really cost?
The Rana Plaza Collapse
On April 23rd, 2013, factory workers saw cracks as deep as two inches running along the floors of their 8-story garment factory. Engineers inspected the building and found it unstable and dangerous; the building had violated multiple codes and regulations and transformed what was supposed to be a residential building into a 5,000-man factory.
The following day, Rana Plaza's owner told factory workers that if they didn't show up for work, they'd be fired and sent home. Workers returned to the factory despite knowing the conditions of their workplace. They chose poor wages over safety.
Around 9AM that day, the top floor toppled and the building collapsed within one minute. The catastrophe took 1,129 lives and injured another 2,515.
The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory gave the world but a glimpse of the true costs behind the glamor of models and price tags. Inhumane working conditions, low wages, and 13 million tons of textile waste every year are but a few of the sacrifices being made to save a few bucks.
Since 2013, fast-fashion companies have stepped forward with donation and recycling campaigns to promote less waste and safer work environments in garment factories around the world.
But how is a “conscious” sweater still $19.99? What exactly does slapping on a “conscious” tag mean?