Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. (Theodor Adorno, 1951)
Once in a while, happens something that reminds us that there is no such thing as a free lunch, or cheap fashion. Last week, a garment factory building in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, due to severe neglect, killing over 400 employees. And we can only imagine the conditions in which they were working.
I admit I got the news late. I’m wondering how it happened, that when drugs were found in Justin Bieber’s tour bus, I knew of it after a few hours, but it took me an entire week to learn about such a disaster. Perhaps I should invest in paper issues of The Guardian, instead of relying on its free app. (Oh, and Metro.)
What now? How can I carry on consuming? The easy way out would be to ask who did it, and the media will be more than happy to provide me with a list of brands, whose clothes were made in Dhaka. I could then start to boycott them, thus supporting their competitors, whose stuff is produced in identical factories in Bangladesh, India, China or wherever. The hard way out would be to go 100% second-hand or no-logo and sweatshop-free. But I won’t do that, because it’s… hard. That’s my only excuse.
At first, the idea of our grandchildren asking us one day, why we kept paying for such exploitation, seems horrifying. Actually, it’s extremely optimistic. It assumes that within the next few decades things will change. But that would require some sort of revolution. Will we lead it, or will we choose to “cheer up” by eating cake and going on retail therapy?
I’m afraid that I know what I’ll do. Today I’m feeling guilty and confused, on Monday I’ll be self-righteous in black American Apparel, and by next weekend I’ll get back to indulging in summer shopping.
Because there is fashion after Dhaka, and it’s pretty as ever. Enjoy your cake.