The recent collapse of a building housing garment factories in Bangladesh has set off a flurry of editorials that question: What is the real cost of cheap fashion?
When we can buy a T-shirt for the price of a cappuccino there are bound to be some questionable practices along the production chain. Very often these practices involve human suffering. A tragedy, such as that which recently occurred in Bangladesh, highlights the true cost of operating in this false economy where retailers routinely turn a blind eye to the lack of regulation in their production factories.
Response to this latest tragedy has been swift. Disney just announced that it has ordered its licensees and vendors not to produce its branded merchandise in Bangladesh. But for this attitude to stick, for regulations to remain enforced and for retailers to stay focused on these problems, the consumer needs to step in.
As long as we expect a garment for little more than a few dollars, we are all contributing to this cycle of potentially exploited workers and inhumane or dangerous working conditions.
But another question that sticks in my head is, how much do we really need? Two recent articles point out that the average American woman wears only 20 percent of her wardrobe. A big part of buying cheap is buying frequently. The rat-a-tat-tat style of garment rotation practiced by fast fashion retailers is designed to keep everyone coming back for more, and more, and more. At what point do we say enough is enough? At what point are we satisfied with what we have? At what point do we become reacquainted with quality over quantity?
My feature story, $hopped 'til I Dropped, has just been published in the April issue (covered by Jessica Biel) of Emirates Woman magazine: A recap of the heady shopping days in New York City at the turn of the millennium, and my wake-up call following the tragedies of 9/11.
I adore Tilda Swinton's otherworldy look and the peculiar projects she gets involved with. Have you seen the one where she's under glass, sleeping like a character out of a fairy tale? Or her performance in Paris using only herself and vintage couture to evoke an entirely new style of runway experience? You can read more about it here
Like many people who have voiced concern about Facebook's newly launched "Home" mobile phone application, I'm not too keen on the idea.
The launch of "Home" which promises to hijack your phone's home page and install it with a perpetual stream of FB update photos, made me think of Guy Debord, the author of The Society of The Spectacle, and one observation in particular concerning images.
In Spectacle, Debord offers a critique of contemporary consumer culture and commodity fetishism, and explains what happens in a society of advanced capitalism when we reach the historical moment “at which the commodity completes its colonization of social life"; a time where consumer culture and mass media collide and the spectacle takes over.
This colonization, Debord writes, is complete at the point where society becomes so deeply disconnected from reality and where images have supplanted genuine human interaction.
It seems thee is no other commodity that promises to colonize social life more than Facebook's newly launched "Home."
The Society of the Spectacle was first published in 1967.