How many clothes do you have in your closet? How many of those do you actually wear on a regular basis?
The average American purchases nearly 70 pieces of new clothing per year (Overdressed, Elizabeth Kline). This equates to 20 billion new garments bought in the US annually. A mere 2% of this apparel is made in the USA. While it can be difficult to find made in USA options, is it really necessary to have this much clothing?
Americans have become dependent on the “fast fashion industry.” The allure of cheap, disposable clothing has created a pattern of increased consumption and waste. While the demand for the latest trends has grown exponentially, creating wealth for large clothing brands, the wages of the garment workers making these products remain stagnant. Struggling to feed our need for an endless influx of new apparel, garment workers are subject to dangerous labor conditions, often ending in tragedy. Most corporations have no idea where their outsourced products are being made, or under what conditions. The result is rampant child and slave labor, human rights violations, and products being manufactured without environmental regulations or safety standards.
To raise awareness of the dangers of fast fashion and the garment industry, Labour Behind the Label has devised the Six Items Challenge. Participants across the UK choose six pieces of clothing to wear exclusively for six weeks in an effort to examine the relationship we all have with the garment industry. The purpose is designed to make you conscious of each outfit you wear. By following this minimalist approach to fashion, we might discover the articles of clothing we already own that can be adapted for different occasions. Maybe we will also find that you own clothing that remains timeless despite the passing trends of each season. And just maybe we can break our dependence on fast fashion.
After learning about the campaign, I contacted Labour Behind the Label to learn how I could be involved. Since there is no US branch of the initiative, I hope to spearhead a local campaign to challenge my fellow Americans to get involved with the project.