John Oliver’s take on fast fashion

Just a few days ago, John Oliver talked about fast fashion brands like Joe Fresh and the Gap on his show. He called out these giant retailers and brands on their lack of supply chain management and for using child labour in their overseas factories.

People take one of two stands on this issue: either they condemn & boycott fast fashion companies and they buy locally and ethically made products; the other group believes that jobs are needed in these poor countries, and if children are willing to work to supplement their families low income, so they should.

Indeed, people do need jobs, especially in third world countries where there are usually large families and very low incomes. However, there is something to be said about work safety conditions and child labour. No child should have to work, because when they do (may it be in a garment sweatshop or out in the fields), you take them away from school. And an uneducated population has little to no chances of getting out of poverty.

What we should focus on is improving workplace safety and wages for adults employed in these factories. Supply chain management and transparency should be critical to any company, either small or large.

But, what can you do?

For starters, get out there and find a local designer that you really like and buy one or two pieces. Guaranteed that even if you pay more, it will last you longer and guess what, you just created a job for someone else, right in your backyard!

Search for fair trade products. Even overseas, there are factories that take pride on the quality of work they offer to their employees. We recently talked to a company based in Toronto that facilitates between designers and Indian factories, that are all fair trade. So if you are a designer that is ready to mas produce, consider them first, and if you are a fashionista – check the labelling for fair trade products.

Then start voicing your opinions, and help push these big companies towards a more transparent supply chain. Companies do listen, but it needs to be a strong voice in order to be heard out. So take on to social media or create a blog and demand fair wages and safe workplaces for all employees. Your voice will join others and together we can change an industry.

The Folly of Fast Fashion

It’s not me, it’s you. It’s definitely you.

The folly of fast fashion. 

We’ve had a good run. It was fun and exciting, but we’re not meant for one another. I’m looking for something longer lasting, while you’re looking for just a fling. Face it, we have different visions and we want very different things. I know that it’s hard to understand, but I’m looking for a more long term commitment. I’m sorry, but it’s not working out. We’re breaking up.

I wrote this letter to myself just a few weeks back. I’ve moved out just over a year ago, and like anybody starting out I’ve needed to find ways to cut costs. Cutting some costs were pretty simple (cable TV) and some things were a little more difficult (magazine subscriptions and imported wine). The hardest thing to give up by far was the freedom to make what felt like unlimited fashion choices. Suddenly, I had to choose between pieces that I loved equally, where as I previously lived at home, my income could go almost entirely to shopping. I decided that I’d switch from my regular boutiques with selected quality pieces to fast fashion. This way, my clothing budget that would normally afford me one piece could afford me nine. Brilliant? Absolutely not.


I truly felt that it was a genius idea. Sacrificing what I thought to be a small amount of quality turned out to be a much bigger issue. It went well beyond clothing not being as soft and zippers not gliding up as easy. My new issues? Hems falling down, ill fitted pieces, articles of clothing pilled and pinholes appeared in what seemed like impossible places. I’d need to replace dresses much more frequently, and I didn’t feel beautiful wearing a dress with pinholes and pilling.

Ruined Shoe-fastfashioj

When I thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. Things took another turn one year later. Normally, I had my staple pieces from the year before that I could build from, but those pieces weren’t purchased quality enough the year before, so I had to start a wardrobe on a completely blank slate each season. Purchasing new fast fashion pieces wasn’t an option; I knew the same thing would just happen again next year.

Empty Closet

This is why I’ve broken up with fast fashion. It gets you caught in a cycle where you have to constantly replace. It’s not sustainable, it’s not inspiring or beautiful and it really watered down the fun of fashion. I need to begin building a quality wardrobe again, it’s going to take time and it’s going to be expensive. I’m done with fast fashion. We’ve broken up and I’m never looking back.

Article written by guest fashion blogger Bhreigh Gillis. You can follow her on twitter @Bhreigh.

Fast Fashion a Textile Waste

“Its better to have fewer things of quality than too much expendable junk” Rachel Zoe.

These words from fashion icon Rachel Zoe, resonate with fast fashion, the culprit of “expendable junk”. Given globalization and cheap labour, it has become a mainstay for big name retailers to inexpensively yet quickly produce mass inventory. Coupled with the epidemic of consumerism, the “fast fashion” movement has become synonymous with disposable fashion and textile waste.


Fast fashion is the drive-through fast food version of fashion. To be more precise, fast fashion is low-cost clothing collections based off of current, high-cost luxury fashion. Delivering its instant gratification, fast fashion has a quick turnaround to replenish stock with merchandise that is “floor ready” in only a few weeks. In its entirety, fast fashion thrives on and cultivates from a toss away culture based on disposability and endless consumerism. Due to poor quality and manufacturing, the benchmark for fast fashion companies is an expected 10 washes until an item no longer holds its original quality and subsequently falls apart. This trend seems to be giving consumers the access card to toss away, filling landfills with the old to make room for the new in our wardrobes.

Fast Fashion Textile Waste in Garbage

Fast Fashion of Textile Waste

This throw away mentality coupled with retail discounting and changing fashion trends may fuel the demand for fast fashion but in actuality it contributes to unsustainable practices and an extensive amount of waste. In Canada, it is estimated that 85% of recyclable clothes are being thrown out, and approximately 500 million pounds of textile waste exist in Canadian landfills. From air pollution created in factories, depletion of water resources, to the increase uses of harmful chemicals and oil, its no secret that this impact of ‘waste couture’ is harmful to the environment. In a society where ‘living green’ and ‘eco friendly’ is the new fad, how do consumers justify their commitment to poorly produced disposable fashion?

Fast Fashion Landfill Textile Waste

While fast fashion can mimic luxury products, it is a poor match for quality such as high ethical standards in sourcing, cost of labour, efficient use of material, and low impact manufacturing. However, to a degree in the fashion industry, we are seeing a consumer demand for more information concerning product sourcing and manufacturing. As such, it is increasingly evident that there is a greater interest for transparency between ethics of tactile practice and consumer markets. While we do see sustainable initiatives in fast fashion today, there still exists uncertainty as to whether fast fashion can genuinely shift from fashion as the latest look and discount, to the materiality of fashion.

Article written by Raylin Grace aka the Red Curl Owl with Luevo. You can follow Raylin at@raylingm