In his latest episode, John Oliver attacked sweatshops and fast fashion — and things got really real, really quickly. Listen, I get that there's something really appealing about cheap, trendy clothes. It's hard to resist a sundress that cost less than your lunch, especially when you have more important things like Chipotle, Netflix, and trendy green juices to take photos of for Instagram to spend money on. Plus, it makes it easier to jump on trends. Sure, you might not wearing culottes in two weeks, but they're cool now, and you can afford them. But John Oliver recently pointed out a big problem with fast fashion that all of us seem to keep conveniently forgetting about: Sweatshops.
Sweatshops first made big news in the '90s when huge brands were accused of labor violations in foreign countries, including ones that had celebrity names attached. Despite all the media attention, problems with "unapproved" sweatshops linked to huge fast fashion brands are still an issue — and no one really seems to be paying much attention to it. When's the last time you thought about where that trendy, cheap new piece you bought actually came from?
John Oliver addressed all of this and more in a recent episode of Last Week Tonight, and as usual, everything he said was pretty spot on (and really funny, too).
The video starts with a pretty simple idea, "Fashion: Personality you can buy."
And he points out that it's what makes many men wear the same plaid button-down multiple days of the week. OK. Fair point.
But then Oliver starts to get to the real point, which is that Americans purchase, on average, 64 clothing items per year because we're able to purchase them all so cheaply.
Oliver talks about a few brands that provide cheap clothing to the masses, which "enables midwestern tweens to dress like 40-something alcoholics attending the funeral of a Tel Aviv nightclub owner." Again, the man has a point.
Despite crazy low prices (like a dress for $4.95), fashion fashion brands are still making a TON of money.
So, this brings us to sweatshops. You may remember some drama regarding sweatshops used by brands in the '90s, but as Oliver pointed out, sweatshops are (unfortunately) still alive and well.
"It seems like sweatshops aren't one of those '90s problems we got rid of, like Donnie Wahlberg, but more like one of the '90s problems we haven't gotten rid of, like Mark Wahlberg."
Every time a big brand land in the news for horrible tragedies, like fires, in their sweatshops, there's a collective outrage — for about 24 hours. These things keep happening, so clearly something else needs to change.
In an effort to REALLY get his point across, Oliver is sending the CEOs of these fast fashion brands "the most food for the least amount of money possible." Where did the meat in these $1 flautas come from? Who knows! Who cares! They're cheap!
The video is close to 17 minutes long and goes through a lot of valid comparisons and examples (that are obviously pretty darn funny as well — duh, it's John Oliver) that all prove one important point: Why are we so OK with not having any idea where our cheap clothes actually came from? What's it going to take for us not to forget all of that for once?
Images: Comedy Central