As fashion bloggers, we often feel pressure to buy lots and lots of clothes. To show something brand new in every post. To not repeat outfits or even pieces. And most of us aren't fabulously wealthy, which means we seek out bargains. There's nothing wrong with that—not always. But we should know where our clothes are coming from and who is being put at risk by making them.
Poor worker conditions are nothing new. We all had a harsh reality check when a Bangladesh factory collapsed in 2013 killing 1,129 garment laborers. Everyone was horrified, and many of us vowed never to indulge in fast fashion again. I did, and then just this past weekend, I bought my daughter some play clothes at H&M because the sweatpants were 3 for $16 or something ridiculous.
Maybe the only thing that will truly change shopper behavior is to visit a garment factory, to look into the eyes of a worker and her children, who live together in poor conditions on sweatshop premises for the privilege of working there. That's what three Norwegian fashion bloggers did for a new reality show called Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion.
Norway's largest newspaper Aftenposen sent them to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to experience and actually do some sewing at a garment factory.
“I have no words for it. It's just so unfair,” 20-year-old Ludvig Hambro them says in the trailer. “The truth is that we are rich because they are poor. We are rich because it costs us €10 ($11.20) to buy a t-shirt at H&M.”
The others are sobbing after experiencing the garment worker life. 17-year-old blogger Anniken Jorgensen has since railed against worker conditions, particularly at H&M.
You can watch episodes with English subtitles here, and you can watch the trailer below. After watching them myself, I might have to return those items to H&M. Though there are signs that conditions in some factories have improved, many still have horrible conditions. I don't know how I could watch my daughter frolicking in her Mickey Mouse sweats knowing others may have suffered to make them.