I’ll say it again: Cheap clothes support cheap lives. Buying the disposable funds a world that treats people’s lives as also disposable, trading child labor, economic slavery, and sacrifice of human lives for more money in your pocket and one more shirt in your closet.

I am constantly disappointed by people’s inability to make this simple connection.

Yes, I have been told that I’m frivolous for buying expensive shoes. But then, these same critics happily load up on cheap shoes from places like Target and Forever 21, all with the attitude that they are somehow better than me because they’re getting ten pair of shoes for the price of one of mine.

When I buy my shoes (clothes, whatever) I know how and where they were made. And, yes, that might mean that because I’m spending more, I have less clothing in my closet than the average Old Navy shopper. But how much clothing do we really need? Are we buying fast fashion for the sheer joy of adorning ourselves, or to fill some other void?

I believe that if we were honest with ourselves about the working conditions for those who make our cheap clothing, we would all work harder to spend our money on labels that support craftspeople who live decent lives, lives with freedom and the ability to provide for themselves and their families.

Of course, expensive does not equal well made. If you give a damn you have to do your research.

If you look at the labels at the Marc Jacobs store, you’ll see that much of it is made in China, for example. Though they have a vendor code of conduct that “specifically prohibits the use of involuntary or forced labor, human trafficking, child labor, and harassment and abuse,” when contractors and middlemen are involved, there’s only so much they can do to enforce that code. Old Navy might attest to that.

Here’s another example: recently I was looking at a collection of dresses by Dita Von Teese for Decades in Los Angeles.

The dresses started at $500. I was intrigued! I like Dita’s style and I assumed, from the price, that she was having them made by people who earn livable wages. But then I found that the clothes were made in China, under conditions that are unclear, at best. I’m not comfortable with that, no way in hell.

I am ok with spending $500 on a dress if it’s made by people who live the kind of life I could live. But I have no interest in supporting people who have stuff made cheap, then jack up the prices to line their pockets.

Just remember when you buy, you choose the world you want to live in.

the author

Babe Scanlon is a writer living and working in San Francisco. She's worked as an archaeologist, computer game designer, agent at Agent Provocateur and hypnotherapist. She is controlling your mind at this very moment.

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