What Do Food and Fashion Have in Common?
What do food and fashion have in common?
I have been thinking a lot about this question lately, and why we are becoming hyper aware about what we eat, and yet remain so unaware about what clothes we don.
How many times have you been asked “where do your [insert produce item here] come from?” with the expectation that you will have a response that involves a local farm or farmers market? More than a few I’m sure. But how many times has someone asked you “where is that pair of jeans from?” and implied that they want to know what country they were made in as opposed to what store you bought them in? Rarely, if ever.
Yet there’s a link between food and fashion in this way, and if we care enough to think about where our food comes from, we should certainly expand that out to our clothes.
I took on the topic over on the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator blog, in an article called Fast Food, Fast Fashion: Let’s All Slow Down.
Fast food and fast fashion have one central thing in common: externalizing costs. The price tag of fast fashion and fast food isn’t the real price. What looks like a good deal to our wallet, takes a very costly toll on the environment and society.
In a world where CEOs make millions – for example in 2013, the CEO of YUM! (who owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut) was paid $22 million – it’s no surprise that fast food workers are fighting hard for a more liveable wage of $15 per hour. Just last week fast food workers in over 150 US cities walked off the job in protest. The visibility that fast food workers have gained over the last year is undeniable.
“They’re a visible force that’s captured a lot of attention in a way that’s compelling,” Mary Hansen, an economics professor at American University, told Fortune. “They’ve been so effective at making it clear to people how difficult it is to live on [fast-food] wages. I don’t think that the [minimum wage] issue would’ve gained that much traction if [the fast-food workers] hadn’t been so determined.”
The problem is that in the U.S., the fight for fast food wages is visible because it’s on home turf. When it comes to fast fashion wages, it’s doubtful that our neighbor is the one making our clothes. Out of sight, out of mind, which means that we rarely take notice of fashion workers protesting. In Bangladesh the national minimum wage is $68 a month, and working conditions continue to be dismal even in the wake of Rana Plaza.
“If you don’t do the excessive overtime, living is difficult, because we need the money for our survival,” a 24-year-old female worker who makes less than 50 cents an hour for overtime, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
You can read the full article here.