A week or so ago, UK-based brand Missguided (which also markets to Australia now) announced the launch of bikinis for £1 (approx $1.80 AUD). Now, are we really surprised that the tacky, fast-fashion online brand Missguided are basically giving away clothes and using z-listed celebrities to promote them on Instagram? Well actually…yes I am. This isn’t ignorance or bad business anymore, it should be criminal. With the fashion industry riddled with ethical and environmental issues, this sh*t bikini represents a much bigger problem for all of us.
It drives a wedge between fast and slow fashion
I wouldn’t touch Missguided’s clothing, not only because of its unethical and environmentally crippling practices (it’s one of the least sustainable brands in the UK according to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), but because the clothes look like actual sh*t. I wouldn’t wear them, even for £1. However I am clearly not the norm as there are many people that would – and Missguided is a really popular brand.
The show Love Island is watched by nearly four million viewers and guess what? Missguided supplies all the clothing and sales go up by 40% every evening the show is on. With most fast fashion brands dipping a toe in the ethical and environmental waters (such as H&M or Zara), brands like Missguided promoting £1 bikinis are pushing the wedge between fast and slow fashion further apart. Slow fashion can’t compete with these prices and a lot of consumers are after affordability.
It devalues clothing and the people that make them
I understand that some people can’t afford items from ethical and sustainable brands, I really do. I understand that a lot of people want to go shopping but can’t afford it, so end up purchasing from cheap brands.
What I don’t understand however, is the reasoning behind promoting bikinis for £1 (as ‘a gift’ or not). This is a slap in the face to the exploited garment workers (most likely young women in developed countries), that are paid less than minimum wage to make something that will inevitably be thrown out. This is where the government should be stepping in and putting policies in place to ensure people and the planet aren’t suffering for our clothes. Just think about it, if a bikini is sold for £1, including marketing, shipping, big wigs and material – how much do you think a garment worker makes?
For all those “babes” out there, if you truly want to “help your girl gang”, shop somewhere where the girls that make your clothes are paid a fair wage and working in safe conditions.
It sends a message to its consumers
I beg anyone that shops at Missguided to firstly consider why they do (seriously, the clothes look horrible) and secondly, to look up the Rana Plaza collapse. Fashion Revolution, set up after Rana Plaza, has been ‘encouraging millions of people to ask brands #whomademyclothes and demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain‘. They also ensure that they aren’t shaming consumers, just informing them.
Missguided is aimed at 16-35 year olds, which is a key demographic for the fashion industry and also moulding future consumption behaviour. Now, selling any item cheaply sends a message to consumers that it’s fine to buy more. Consumers trust that brands are doing the right thing, well they aren’t. Missguided drops 1000 new products per week at ridiculous prices, someone has to pay the price. The items are also nearly all made of synthetic (plastic) fabric, meaning more plastic in the ocean, more landfill and toxic chemicals seeping into the land and your skin. Yummy.
If you’re in Australia and looking to mix up your clothing each week, perhaps consider joining GlamCorner and renting clothes instead? The clothes are designer and incredible, with many options and you can pick three styles a month for around $90. Plus, there’s no textile waste and it’s a B-Corp. Worth it. If you’re in the United States, Rent the Runway provides a similar service.
It represents bad business leadership
Missguided’s owner Nitin Passi dubs himself the king of fast fashion and seems to give zero f****s to what people think of his damaging fashion business. To give credit to Nitin, he’s built a popular instagram brand from the ground up and is very inclusive of plus-sizes. But I ask: Why not make a change and make better quality clothing from fairly treated workers? Or even publish the supply chains on the website so people can clearly see who they are buying from and can make better decisions.
For a great example of a ‘fast fashion’ style brand that’s eco-conscious, ethically focused and offers seriously stylish designs, you can’t go past Reformation.
A moment on the hips, a lifetime in the ocean
This cheap bikini is made from synthetic polyester fabric, which will shed plastic microfibers in the water every time it’s worn or washed. These tiny microplastic bits can take thousands of years to break down and are ingested by fish and filtered into tap water. Microfibers are such an issue now that we are eating a credit card sized amount of plastic every week, grim.
Please don’t force me to eat your sh*t bikini
So what can you do to help? Here are three actions you can take:
Make some noise. Directly message Missguided (message online, through Facebook and Instagram) and tell them you aren’t happy about them promoting this ridiculously cheap bikini and that you’d like to know #whomademyclothes.
Ask the UK and Australian government to put policies in place to prevent fast fashion. The UK has just rejected a levy for fast fashion so make sure to hassle your local MP here. For Australia, we are far behind but the more noise the better, we need to fine fast fashion and polluting industries – contact your local council here.
Shop from better brands or rent clothes to have a revolving wardrobe if you want to! Good On You is a great fashion ratings app that shares conscious fashion alternatives and rates brand’s ethics and environmental practices. Plus, there’s so many great bikini brands out there! This eco-friendly swimwear list is a great place to start.
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Feature image via Missguided website.