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The Dirty Side of Fashion

Posted on 10 May 2016

You may think that fashion is all about crisp whites and bright colors, shiny shoes and pressed fabrics. But there’s a side to the fashion industry that has been marred and soiled by the producers and the way in which their garments are being made.

 "The [fashion industry] shift is moving ruthlessly towards a way of producing which only really looks after big business interest."   --The True Cost; a documentary film

According to recent studies, fashion is the second most polluting industry on earth, second only to the dirty oil industry. Many of the resources used to produce clothing are not accounted for in the cost of items – chemicals, water, land and human exposure and neglect.

There are thousands of extremely toxic CHEMICALS used to grow cotton and to treat all types of fabric. These chemicals are so present on the fabric that they make it dangerous for the garment workers who are around them every day. And an alarming number of children have been born to these garment workers with severe developmental problems.

WATER is used in vast amounts to grow the cotton that is used to make so many of our garments and home textiles today. And so much water is being polluted by those same chemicals I just mentioned.

And LAND is being used and polluted daily by the growing process of, primarily, cotton all around the world. Cotton that is no longer grown as it once was but is genetically modified in extreme amounts. The herbicide Roundup is the chemical of choice for most GMO crops and has been found to persist in soils, waterways, and other environmental nooks and crannies. It even ends up contaminating waterways and groundwater sources.

In the documentary film The True Cost, they looked at the implications of the suddenly very prevalent genetically modified cotton farming practices and how it related to the condition of the land and people in India. Suddenly, mental retardation in these farmer communities has become an epidemic. Also, over the last 16 years there have been 250,000 recorded farmer suicides in India. It marks the largest recorded wave of suicides in history.

But the problem also lies on American soil. Texas is home to the largest cotton patch in the world and as of today, 80% of the cotton grown there is genetically modified. A fact that was certainly not the case a couple of decades ago.

Satish Sinha, Associate Director of Toxics Link, was interviewed for the True Cost. She said, "You can have the best of materials moving into the high end fashion market in Milan, Paris and London but there has been so much work which is going on behind it and so much chemicals has gone into and has been discharged into rivers. But we are only looking at this time at the finished product."

Renowned designer, Stella McCartney, also interviewed for the film, added, “I mean the fashion industry just needs to think. It needs to stop and sort of look at how it's been working in a conventional way and sort of question it, challenge it... And that's for me, as a designer, that's the most exciting thing I do now...more exciting than saying ‘I love this color this season’ or ‘This is the silhouette or the hemline,’ for me a way bigger challenge and excitement is looking at my industry and saying, ‘You know, I'm going to try to do it in a way that is not as harmful to the planet.’”

At hide & cheek, we’re trying to do the same thing. We work everyday to make a product that you, our customer, will love. But we will always do it in a way that is less harmful to the planet and the people, like you and I, who live on it.


Sara & Elizabeth


photo from the Made in America Movement

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