Welcome to Brunette with a Budget.
A style, runway & wellness blog created by Chicago-based fashion journalist Amanda Kaplan.

BEHIND THE CLOTHES: THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER 21

BEHIND THE CLOTHES: THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER 21

 

The difference between a blogger and a journalist is that journalists have to be unbiased.  But a blogger can be as biased as they want because anyone who is reading a blog has the choice to read it or not to read it.  Which is why, when I write about fast fashion, I don't feel crooked naming the companies who are ethically and sustainably corrupt. 

While blogging and journalism may be different in certain aspects, they are also the same in others.  In both blogging and journalism the truth needs to be told.  The truth is a priority.  Lies only lead to the diminishing of trust and the lack of credibility.  And who better to tell the truth about fast fashion to than to those who are infatuated with cheaply made clothing for insanely cheap prices.


Forever 21, in particular,  is one of the top fast fashion companies in the world.  While they generate profits over $4 billion every year they are doing so in a way that is completely and irrevocably wrong.  Their disregard for human rights and the environment is something that needs to be discussed and exposed to those who are uneducated about the harm that Forever 21 instills on the world.

This article reveals the hard-hitting truth behind the clothing at fast fashion mogul, Forever 21.

ON ETHICS

I think there's something to be said about companies who don't follow strict guidelines when it comes to who is manufacturing their clothing and how they're manufacturing their clothing.  It's so easy for us to head over to the mall, find a cute top for five dollars and then purchase it without any thought on who made it.  Obviously, the garment just doesn't appear out of thin air, it's created by someone, a person, regardless of the help they may or may not receive from machinery.

According to Project Just and Ecouterre, Forever 21 has regularly failed China's safety trials.  These trials are put in place in order to protect garment workers to ensure their safety during the manufacturing process.  In addition, according to a report in Not For Sale, Forever 21 has been accused of slave and forced labor, along with human trafficking.  The conditions in which these garment employees for Forever 21 work in are anything but ideal or morally correct. 

But who is really to blame here?  The business or the consumer?

When a business plan for a company is being created, most owners take into consideration the Corporate Social Responsibility aspect.  In regards to Forever 21, there were no real standards created for this section of their plan. According to the Fashion Transparency Index from The Fashion Revolution, Forever 21 ranked in the bottom 14%.  This means that Forever 21's CSR doesn't have in place the proper standards for human labor. Because of this, human trafficking and emotional and sexual abuse occurs.  

While many factory workers for Forever 21 wish to be able to bring these problems to the attention of their manager / owner, the lack of "confidential complaint mechanisms" causes workers to have "little chance to speak up about the poor [work] conditions or abuse." Essentially, they are helpless in the way that they are being treated.  The five dollar shirt that you are wearing across your back was created by those who have been regularly abused, just so you're able to purchase your garment at such a low price.  

Is it really worth it? 

ON SUSTAINABILITY

If you have read my previous blog posts on the harms of fast fashion (if not, there are several and you can check them out here) then you know about the harms that cotton and  dyes have not only on the people making the clothing but also how they impact the environment.  If you have read my other blog posts, then you will also remember how fast fashion, since it's for a day, impacts our environment when it's thrown out, creating massive clothing landfills around the world.  In the whole fast fashion realm, Forever 21, in particular, is a huge perpetrator of  harming our environment.

According to Project Just, Forever 21 has been violating environmental safety standards for decades. Forever 21 has caused deforestation to to many forest-dependent communities because of their "irresponsible fabric sourcing."  Forever 21 has been noted in RAN.org's Introducing: Out of Fashion campaign which heavily talks about the neglect of trees in rainforests in places such as Brazil and Indonesia.  Forever 21, as a fast fashion company, requires the use of trees in their garments which can be found in popular textiles such as rayon and viscose: those silky tees and tank that you purchase for less than $10 at Forever 21. 

But how does this cause deforestation?

The part of the tree that is found in fabrics is the pulp.  Tree pulp, in order to be found at a cheap price is "leaving an incredibly destructive footprint on the globe and has been a significant driver of human rights abuses, land grabbing... climate change and toxics pollution" (Introducing: Out of Fashion).  While trees only consist of about 30% pulp, the other 70% of the tree becomes waste and therefore isn't being used to benefit our environment in the ways that it should. Forever 21 is not only hurting the environment by its poor use of natural resources, but it's also causing the destruction of rainforests which causes larger, worldly destruction in the long-run.

I challenge you:

Think about what you're supporting when you pull out a five-dollar-bill to purchase that top from F21.

ON TRANSPARENCY

Transparency (noun)Used in business, the humanities and in other social contexts, implies openness, communication and accountability.  Transparency is operating in such a way that is easy for others to see what actions are performed.

In today's world, people along with companies and big-businesses alike, lie, hide and cheat.  It's part of their nature to not tell the whole truth.  In fashion, it's ideal for companies to be 100% transparent in their behind-the-scenes work in order to gain the trust of consumers.  According to the Fashion Transparency Index from The Fashion Revolution, "We need more transparency from the fashion industry. Transparency involves openness, communication and accountability."  A lot of the times, major fast fashion companies don't even know where their clothing is being made.  Forever 21 ranked in the bottom 0-25% in the FTI (Fashion Transparency Index) showing that they don't reveal their Code of Conduct and that they're doing very little to become more transparent about where their supplies are coming from. 

Transparency within a company is essential.  If Forever 21 could establish transparency within their company, many factors such as unethical human practices and environmental harm could be somewhat prevented. In the grand-scheme-of-things, being 100% transparent means that the company knows what's going on behind-the-scenes of their manufacturing, which leads to them being aware of the negative and positive practices going on.

If Forever 21 could gain some sort of transparency, the #FashionRevolution will start to move forward within this company.

STILL DON'T CARE?

Ultimately, it's up to you and all of us to make significant changes.  The more we become educated the less we stop shopping at places such as Forever 21.  The less we shop at Forever 21, the more willing the company will be to stop its unethical practices and instead, start doing what is right.

If you're still not convinced that you shouldn't shop at Forever 21, watch the videos below.  Hopefully, they'll change your mind.

THE BUSINESS OF FAST FASHION

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON FOREVER 21?  WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON FAST FASHION?  LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

** Disclaimer:  all of my sources used a linked within the text.  For any additional questions on the information I have talked about / citing issues, please contact me at: inquiries@brunettewithabudget.com **

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