On Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight,” host and comedian John Oliver took a swipe at fast fashion’s quick, ultra-cheap production methods, which include child labor and unsafe working conditions abroad.
Oliver’s show aired after last week’s Fashion Revolution Day, the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in which over 1,100 people died in a garment factory in Bangladesh in 2013.
Over the last few decades, garment production has largely moved overseas —only 2 percent of clothes now sold in the US are produced domestically.
With the globalization of garment production, “out of sight” has really become “out of mind,” as Oliver points out.
Here are some highlights from his 17-minute takedown of fast fashion:
“H&M’s prices are so competitive that a few years back they put out a dress that costs just $4.95. Think about that.”
“As great as all these stylish cheap clothes are, at a certain point it’s hard not to look at those prices and wonder, how does any clothing company make money? Although lets be honest, you know the answer to that.”
“…fast fashion companies are massively profitable. The chairmain of H&M is the 28th richest person in the world, and the co-founder of Zara is the 4th richest person in the world. That means people who own oil fields are worth less than the guy who makes distressed jean shorts.”
“A big part of all these brands appeal is that there’s always something new to buy.”
“The only way brands make money is through volume, and that’s why even basics like jeans now go through fashion cycles with the lifespan of mayflies.”
“This is going to keep happening as long as we let it. So we need to show clothing brands not just that we care, but why they should.”
John Oliver’s hard hit at the wasteful, and socially irresponsible fashion industry is timely and on point. Unless we consumers begin to show clothing brands that yes, we care—and they should too—little will change in an industry desperately needing overhaul.
Waylon interviews Kristin Glenn:
Relephant & interesting on ecofashion:
Author: Kristin Glenn
Editor: Renée Picard