Tom Cridland of The Tomicks bangs the drum for #FckFastFashion


#FckFastFashion protest outside Primark, Oxford Street on June 3rd

Fast fashion - like fast food - has led to serious bloating. This time it's our wardrobes and our charity shops that are stuffed - with clothes bought cheaply and easily discarded. TOM CRIDLAND is the founder of a sustainable fashion brand and a member of The Tomicks band playing as part of the fast fashion protests. He calls for radical change in our fashion industry

Both people and the environment still suffer as a result of the way fashion is made, sourced and consumed.

We, The Tomicks, played an anti fast fashion gig outside the Oxford Street branch of Primark in London this month: the protest was called #FckFastFashion and is just the beginning of a series of similar peaceful demonstrations against fast fashion retailers whose ethos undermines our beautiful planet and its people.

Our protest concerts will continue at 7pm on Thursday 21 June 2018 outside Topman by the Oxford Circus tube station in central London.

Why was the decision made to take to the streets of London to rally against this apparently unstoppable fashion phenomenon? It comes down to two key questions.

Child labour

Firstly, have fast fashion retailers actually improved conditions for their workers in the five years since the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Bangladesh killing more than 1,000 and injuring over 2,000 clothing factory workers - have they eliminated child labour and ensured that everyone involved in their supply chain is paid a fair living wage?

According to recent statistics by the International Labour Organisation, more than 218 million children are working and 73 million of them in an environment that "directly endangers their health, safety, and moral development.”

An increasing number of fashion manufacturers and brands include lengthy sections on the use of child labour within their supplier codes of conduct but then fail to take steps to ensure these policies are put into practice.

And 426 fashion industry workers died in “workplace incidents” in 2017 alone, with workers’ rights remaining compromised. To form any kind of workers' union and protest against unfair treatment can sometimes mean risking death, as demonstrated by the murder of a union leader in Bangladesh earlier this year and the killing of activists by Cambodian police officers.

Abuse of women

Indeed, the fashion industry is still rife with the abuse of women, unpaid wages and toxic chemicals. The gender pay gap has become a focus for Hollywood but in developing countries where the fashion industry can often have predominantly female workforces, misogyny and sexism is shamefully prevalent, with many women underpaid, overworked, bullied and harassed.

Facts and figures on sustainability progress in the fashion industry invariably focus on the environmental impact of textile production and often obscure equally important social issues that the industry still needs to sort out.

Carry Somers, the founder of Fashion Revolution, says: “Five years on from Rana Plaza, both people and the environment still suffer as a result of the way fashion is made, sourced and consumed.

"Most companies are still operating in broadly the same way that enabled the Rana Plaza disaster to occur, relying on auditing for basic legal compliance. Fashion brands had repeatedly audited the factories in the Rana Plaza complex, but the risks went either undetected or ignored.”

Both people and the environment still suffer as a result of the way fashion is made, sourced and consumed.

Mass consumption

Secondly, what do fast fashion retailers think about the environmental impact of the attitude of treating clothing as quickly disposable, which they clearly promote through their pricing structure and collection release cycles?

Their business model has resulted in the industry becoming the world’s second most polluting, with billions of tonnes of discarded garments in landfill.

There might have been some level of progress but the fact remains that such is the level of waste being produced by fast fashion that we may never reach the utopia of a “quality quantity equilibrium”.

It is also becoming increasingly likely that by as early as 2030 natural resources will have become so jeopardised that any move towards a more sustainable future will be near impossible.

Business Insider recently reported that millennials are tiring of the ethos of brands like H&M and Forever 21 and that thrift shops are thriving. But they then highlight that this is partly due to the success of rivals such as ASOS and Missguided whose supply chain times are as low as one week. This does not point to a change of attitude to clothing consumption.

Buying better

The pressure to constantly be seen in something new is as pervasive and entrenched in Western society as it ever was. 

The grim reality is that the gross exploitation of the world and its resources means that no Instagram addicted adolescent need suffer the unthinkable “FOMO” that would be induced as a result of wearing something twice due to the fact fast fashion is so cheap.

This mass produced clothing is of such decreased quality it will invariably have a shorter life cycle and, therefore, will not be recycled but end up in landfill.

Are consumers any better off with fast fashion or would they, in fact, be wearing higher quality clothing, saving money in cost per wear, reducing their impact on the environment and supporting fairly paid and ethically treated workers in the fashion industry by opting to #FckFastFashion?

This Author

Tom Cridland is the founder of the Tom Cridland sustainable fashion brand. Tom and his partner Debs Marx started the brand in 2014 and it's now a Fortune Magazine Cool Company, listed on the Sustainia100. They also perform in the band The Tomicks.