Raising awareness on the unpleasant practices of the fashion industry
I was going to write today on the wild natural life of Africa, but I was made aware of a debate on a fashion brand’s commercial that erupted while I was away. So I postponed my Africa piece to a later date…
There was child abuse in that brand’s commercial. After the public reaction, the slogan concerning children was removed.
Even though this incident pointed arrows at one brand only, I think it has created an opportunity for us to discuss the entire fashion industry.
Some of you may know I used to write about fashion. Nowadays, I only write the “Mirror” spot in the Kelebek supplement, which is kind of a caricature; otherwise, I do not write about fashion or brands.
I stopped writing about fashion because I did not want to contribute to the unpleasant practices of the fashion industry, such as how workers are exploited throughout the supply chain, the violations tailors are subjected to, the working conditions of models, the pressure and problems created by the aesthetics of thinness, the role of the fashion press feeding all of these and the attribution of people as “consumers” rather than citizens.
One does not need to turn the spotlight to the coal mines to see wild capitalism. It is also apparent in the fashion industry, because it is a giant sector.
I came across leading Turkish historian İlber Ortaylı at a restaurant the other day. He liked one of our coats, but then snorted when he saw its brand. “You think you are leftists. Is that so, by wearing the products of a brand that feeds cheap labor?” he teased. We laughed, but he was right to a certain extent.
The abuse in the fashion industry is cleverly hidden from Western eyes.
Look, I am not blaming any one brand. Some of them act responsibly. But if we are talking about fashion as an industry, do not doubt that it is a sector protecting the interests of companies and the profit margin to a major extent.
This does not mean that fashion is only a form of abuse. Fashion is also a field that frequently generates creativity; it is a source of inspiration and culture, all of which falls under the field of art.
As long as the capitalist order continues, however, it is not possible for fashion to break its industry chains and be free. If fashion were not at the center of the system, it would have power to replace the old with the new, to generate hope, to give people dreams.
Well, what should we do? Boycotting is not a solution whenever we are angry with the fashion industry or brands; this would mean you are accepting the “consumer” status that has been attributed to you.
We should approach the fashion industry as we approach other social issues, and struggle similarly.
We should organize campaigns against illegal workshops, we should listen to workers and models in the sector, we should raise awareness in our environment to stop capitalism influencing our relationship with our bodies through fashion. We should be persistent to ensure that runways contain the diversity of the streets and reflect beauty with models of all sizes and races.
Fashion is an enormously creative field combining sociology, ideology and theory. We should oppose the industry that has downgraded it to shopping and us to mere consumers. We should do this not as consumers, but with the consciousness of citizens.