Constantly faced with the pressure to create cheaper products, and also pulled internally because I agree that sustainable should also mean attainable and exist outside the luxury space, I try to view this as an opportunity to also educate myself first, and then anyone who wants to learn with me on what cheap means and how brands achieve cheap. Let’s talk about that here.
Cheap products mean cheap labor. The breakdown of margins from factory to consumer is something the average consumer knows very little about, and something I am now extremely familiar with through Bayou. It goes something like this: if a shirt is able to be sold for $5 it means that Brand is buying the shirt for $2 from the factory. For the factory to also make a profit it means they’re paying the workers $1 to make that shirt or less. So we are looking at paying people cents per hour for labor. This is beyond unethical. There’s also a huge environmental cost, with cheap dyes and conditions poisoning our planet. We have to think about buying less but buying quality. Those $5 shirts are designed to fall apart anyway, continuing a model of consumption consumption consumption. We have to change our consumer habits in order to change our labor laws! Of course, there are people who cannot afford a $40 T-shirt.
I was raised by a single mother who made only enough money for necessities raising two kids in a very expensive city - we didn’t have money for expensive clothes either. But now is the time to put pressure on the system to change from the inside out. I’m not talking about people who don’t have the ability right now. I’m talking about those who do, being a part of the change for everyone else. There are people who can afford to make better choices but choose not to because the addiction to new clothes and consumer habits is built into marketing models. Let’s start with changing the minds of those who can do better. Addiction to new, being taken advantage of by a system that capitalizes on our addiction to new, that is what must change. We are targeted by algorithms and harassed by advertisements all day long both consciously and subconsciously. Fast fashion must end. We have to start caring, and we have to start checking in with ourselves about our own habits and choices. That same five dollars you spend on a T-shirt made in horrible working conditions can also go towards purchasing a used piece from a thrift shop, or paying a seamstress to mend a hole in something you would otherwise discard. We’ve got to get creative. It doesn’t always have to be new!
Founder, BaYou with Love