Last week, a reporter for the New York Times unveiled a dirty secret that most of us assumed but overlooked. Fashion Nova, the influencer-favourite and one of the world’s biggest online retailers, was exposed for massively underpaying workers in its Los Angeles Factories.
If we’re being honest, what else did we expect from a fast fashion company that mass-producesnew pieces and styles overnight while remaining relatively cheap?
The report disclosed that the factory workers who made the clothing were being paid illegally low wages (one of the worker’s pay averaged to about $4.66 an hour; when the Los Angeles minimum wage rate stands at $13.25 per hour.) If fast fashion’s damage to the environment wasn’t enough proof that it needs to end, the suffering of underpaid factory workers should be.
Our growing need for cheap clothes (that we ultimately end up wearing once for an Instagram post) has taken an immense toll on our environment. According to a recent study, we buy 60 per cent more garments today than we did in the beginning of the decade, and we only keep the clothing for half as long. And today, fashion production accounts for 10 per cent of humanity’s carbon emissions – and 84 per cent of what we buy ends up in the dump every year and ultimately in our oceans.
To put it simply: it’s time for fast fashion to die. It’s time for ethics to become a major factor in our sartorial choices. Smaller, ethical, and eco-conscious brands are rising across the Arab world, so it’s not hard to do. To help you navigate the market, we round up our favourites homegrown sustainable brands for you to shop.
This label is first and foremost, sustainable. Their pieces are typically made from upcycled materials and they strictly use vegan leathers.
If there’s one streetwear label to support, it’s Shabab International. Having been around since 2012, the community-driven label is one of the region’s first. The label strictly makes their clothing in Dubai, working with local tailors, who first and foremost, are not underpaid.
One and Four Studio
Sustainability is One and Four’s primary mission. The brand sources ethical fabrics, and their designs use minimal amounts of product. They’re also unisex.
Tania George isn’t just cute, it’s ethical too. The Jordanian label places focus on the craft, working primarily with local tailors from across the Middle East.
Since launching in 2017, Precious Trust has garnered a cult following in Dubai and beyond. Known for their minimalist aesthetic, just like Shabab, Precious Trust is made locally, with adequately-paid tailors.