For the record, I absolutely love thrifting and I couldn't be more excited to apply the concept of sustainability and "being green" to a classroom setting. I feel as though this challenge is a bit of a continuation of what I've been doing for years, but with the added pressure of abstaining from purchasing anything beyond the periphery of second-hand stores. I have to say, it pains me to let a J. Crew spring sale go like that and I might even shed a little tear. Fortunately for me, I was at Bohéme the other day and found the most beautiful Alexander McQueen blazer for only fifty dollars with a previous price tag of nearly fifteen hundred dollars; so maybe this challenge is somewhat of a blessing in disguise for me? It was almost as if the stars aligned and fate brought us together—to have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.
But in all seriousness, modern day fashion has taken such a fucked up direction as globalization evolves and the overall demand for clothing at an affordable price increases. Corporations and business conglomerates, like Nike and Forever 21, have taken a Fordist, assembly-line approach to design, perpetuating global consumerism and exploitive practices in the garment industry. As read in Mayer's article, these industries capitalize upon the vulnerability of undocumented immigrant workers and, not only decrease their pay below minimum wage, but also threaten and nearly control the very existences and lives of their exploited employees. In addition, Palmer's article claims that these industries also deter people from even realizing that these workers are exploited under poor and dangerous working conditions, therefore, invisibilizing and propagating these problems and this systematic form of oppression.
As consumers, what we can do to combat this seemingly endless cycle of exploitation is to purchase products from countries that do not practice exploitive methods of human labor and be wary and cautious of where our goods are manufactured. Why not invest your money in quality goods that will last you a lifetime rather than conform to "fast fashion" and consumerism? If we all had this mentality, these issues would cease to exist; but the lack of solidarity and education prevents our community from progressing in a holistic and sustainable demeanor.
I recommend watching this Yale lecture on "Marx's theory of Class and exploitation" as it does a really wonderful job of explaining the Marxist ideology behind capitalism and consumerism that we didn't see in class. It's more interesting than pertinent, but hopefully you learn something from it!
Inside Source: Holstein, William J., et al. "Santa's sweatshop." US News & World Report 50 (1996).
Outside Source: Mayer, Robert. "Sweatshops, Exploitation, and Moral Responsibility." JOURNAL of SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY. Vol. 38.No. 4 (Winter 2007): 605–619. Web. 16 Feb. 2014. .