It's been a month since I broke up with Fast Fashion.
Which means I got out of a long term relationship…with the mall. *Collective gasp of disbelief from anyone who knows me.* I know. It hurts to say. I’ve often pledged my love for the Mall of America, usually followed by a groan by those who grew up in Minneapolis. (Or lived here longer than a month?) MOA is the largest Mall in the US; there are over 520 stores in this gigantore p(a)lace. That’s right. It’s the stuff of my shopaholic dreams, and others’ nightmares- always crowded, full of tourists, lacking parking.
My shopping addiction has been with me as long as I can remember. And I’ve been shopping cheap clothes since I was wearing pigtails. I grew up shopping sales and clearance racks and factory outlets, thanks to my lovely Indian parents who instilled the value of good deals in me. But I distinctly remember being annoyed with them for picking up shirts and feeling the quality and materials they were spending money on. Back then, I never got why they wouldn’t spend money on clothes at Forever 21- who cares if they fell apart? Middle school me needed that matching bubblegum sweat suit with the vague phrases on it. (Possibly a weird combination of VS PINK and Juicy Couture all at a knockoff price? Not my best outfit…)
Looking back.. I finally get it. When I started shopping for myself, I ran straight to cheap, trendy clothing. I don’t have just one ‘style’- I like to switch up my looks and outfits. I love the feeling of buying new fun pieces, and like my parents, I love the feeling of scoring a great deal.
But clothing like that- fast fashion- only seems cheap. Its real cost is deadly… literally. In 2013, 1300 workers died in Bangladesh when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed, not to mention the 600 deaths between 2005 and 2013 from factory fires. Take a second to think about that. Almost 2000 lives taken or ruined so I could score that tee under ten dollars. Families destroyed, communities affected- Meanwhile, we keep shopping, big companies keep buying, factories keep underpaying and running in unsafe conditions… it’s a vicious cycle.