We live in a fickle society where people are judged, intentional or not, based on how they look. That could be the way their hair is done, but more often than not, we look to the way someone is dressed to “evaluate” them. Deborah Rhode, a professor at Stanford Law, wrote a book titled “The Beauty Bias” and in it, she notes that “the less attractive you are in America, the more likely you are to receive a longer prison sentence, a lower damage award, a lower salary, and poorer performance reviews, and you are less likely to be married and more likely to be poor." In essence, appearance makes a difference.
There is a societal consensus that fast fashion is bad, and I’m not here to rebut that. There is a lot of truth to the reasons why, for example, one should steer clear of shopping at mega retailers who are known to manufacturer their products in sweat shops, where working conditions are inhumane as is the pay for these workers. But fast fashion also provides a service - it allows individuals who are not fiscally secure to engage in the conversation. The conversation of worthiness, of credibility. That is something that our society gives value to and if we correlate fashion trends to this credibility, then there needs to be a way for individuals who are not in the 1% to play that game. But, if we allow everyone to obtain credibility, then no one will have credibility, right? Not necessarily. Just the opposite. If we shut the doors to allow only individuals with financial security to be credible, that’s an issue as well. The credibility that clothing provides is often a shallow one, one that you might chalk up to a first impression, and may linger a little longer than that. Credibility will be realized when and where it should be realized. It should not be reserved only for the wealthy.
So there is a benefit to granting the masses access to affordable, trendy clothing, but there needs to be accountability on the other side, for those who are making these clothing. Especially if our argument is that we want all people to have a fair chance, even those who are poor… while we are wearing clothing made by individuals who would never even be able to afford our “cheap” clothing.