Fast Fashion + Feminism
by: Luisa Koitzsch
Prior to my internship in Antigua, Guatemala for Casa Flor Designs, I was willfully ignorant of the lives behind the hands that make my clothes and the colossal impact of purchasing an article of clothing from a fast fashion store in a mall. In continuously buying “fast fashion,” we are fueling an industry that is not only harmful to the environment but also thrives on underpaid workers who are typically women.
The sole reason that the fashion industry is so detrimental to the environment and people’s lives is for the sake of maximizing profit through exploited labor and factories that leak chemicals into oceans. Mindless consumerism and the incessant desire to replace your wardrobe every month contributes to climate change due to fast and cheap fashion production with byproducts of fossil fuels used to transport garments, excess waste, and air and water pollution. Fast fashion still exists because there is a high demand for it. Through consumption, we all have influence to change the way that fashion is produced and hold companies to a higher standard of their treatment of people and the environment.
When we get sick of clothes, which are likely produced in Chinese or Bangladeshi factories, and donate it to thrift stores, only 20-30% of this clothing is bought and the rest is shipped to landfills and pacas, Central American markets. This introduction of mass amounts of cheap clothing robs income from artisans that provide for their families through their craft and contributes to the extreme poverty in Guatemala that drives thousands to flee to the United States for more opportunities. Next time you buy a cheap top from a fast fashion store, it’s worth the thought that your dollar is supporting their values, sustaining their forms of underpaid production, and continuing the cycle of poverty in the countries it’s produced in. Buying from ethical and sustainable fashion companies not only provides a higher income to their employees with better conditions but also creates higher quality products that have a longer closet life.
When I first arrived in Antigua, I was immediately struck by the sincerity and passion to create a difference in Guatemalan women’s lives that radiated from Averie Floyd and Rachel Ross, the founders of Casa Flor Designs. I was able to firsthand experience the relationships and friendships they developed with the weavers and seamstresses that produce the textile and clothing. Since meeting Rachel and Averie, their gifted seamstress Irma, has created her own workshop that caters to five different clients. With the connections she formed through Casa Flor, Irma was able to flourish her talent and entrepreneurial spirit and send all of her children to receive an education. Casa Flor Designs is true to its label of an ethical and sustainable production house evident in its various efforts to reduce waste with natural dyes and organic cloth, simultaneously providing high wages to their artisans in order to elevate their socioeconomic status.