As we approach Pride Month 2020 and are currently examining the BLM movement within the fashion industry, we can celebrate and support one another in so many amazing ways. This is the time when everyone comes together, educates themselves and fights for equality in the world. However, there is little said on the “gaslight” and the fake social media expansion of fast fashion brands.

Fast fashion and modern slavery

In the last few months, the support towards BLM movement and Pride was very visible and heard, both in reality during protests and on social media. It is amazing to see so much support and that people want to help and educate each other. The fashion industry wasn’t far behind from joining the movement. We saw the trend on social media, where influencers started to share black-owned businesses that people can buy from and support in order to bring awareness to the black community. At some point, big brands were socially pressured to share their support towards the movement and reveal numbers of diversity within their workplaces. However, little people have questioned their honesty and integrity. Did you ask yourself, if the support is actually genuine? Are the numbers real? Are their promises of becoming a more diverse brand truthful? It is very easy to post a Black Square in order to please society and followers. The bigger question is, how can you believe the authenticity of what fast fashion, like Pretty Little Thing, In the Style or Primark, say. Till this day, they have been using modern slavery that exploits factory workers and sometimes children. Whereas now, they overly support the BLM and the Pride. That doesn’t make sense, does it?

What is modern slavery

“Modern slavery is the severe exploitation of other people, who live in poverty and exclusion, for personal or commercial gain”. There are many types of modern slavery, like forced labour, child slavery, or descent-based slavery. They all have forced labour and unfair salary or even none of it, in common. The workers usually are very vulnerable people with financial problems that is why they are so easy to take advantage of. They are not aware of their rights and the fact that they are being exploited.

It is all about money

If you are asking yourself, why fast fashion brands jumped into the wagon of BLM movement support, the answer is easy - money and to avoid conflict. In our modern society, not many of us do our research on what is happening in the world anymore. Therefore, we are very easy to believe in anything that social media and media in general say. Many of us are still ignorant of the treatment and exploitation of others. “If we do not see it physically, it is not happening.” Brands take a huge advantage of that. From a PR perspective, the BLM movement and Pride are an amazing opportunity - yes, OPPORTUNITY, to reach masses through the clickable hashtag and gain profit. Fast fashion brands are showing support by dropping a new collection, which is produced from one day to another, that is dedicated to the specific movement. Have you ever asked yourself, how it is possible that the garments were produced so quickly and in the number of thousands? People are just acknowledging the surface of a company’s actions, but don’t dig deeper. As an example of L’Oreal Paris, the brand has been known to have workplace discrimination issues since the first case in 2016. During the time of the BLM movement, they published supporting post and declared to donate £45,000 to LGBT+ communities. Those actions caused a huge backlash for the company, especially from the former ambassador Munroe Bergdorf. She accused the brand of “gaslighting”, as she was dropped from the brand’s campaign in 2017 for speaking out about racism and unfortunately, she wasn’t the only one. 

What can you do?

The best lesson is to always educate and research for yourself brands that produce ethically and diversity is their core value. For the future, look for companies that put their promises into actions instead of just believing them. Have a look at the Sustainable Brand Index 2020 or you can download an app called GOOD ON YOU, where you can find how ethical and transparent brands are - it basically does the research for you. While shopping at YUUGEN, you can shop by the value of ethical production, where you can find products that were manufactured in a fair way and conditions.


Author: Laura Balajcza

Graphics: Ada Waleska


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