慶應SFC 2024年 総合政策学部 英語 大問3 全文(正答済み)

 Welcome to 2020―everyone has a voice and consumers aren’t afraid to use theirs. And two of those loudest voices are shouting about hot button issues: purchasing fashionable items on a tight budget and the ethical do-good, feel-good awareness factor of the clothes that are made. The concern over working conditions and ethical sources behind fashion is nothing new. As long as the term “sweatshop” has been around, there have been advocates against them. But human nature is also built on a duality—and sometimes a lie. For all the preaching on caring about the human worker, does the average consumer even really care?

 Fashion Nova, a company that has perfected fast fashion for the Instagram era, illustrates this fact. The mostly online retailer leans on a vast network of celebrities, influencers, and random selfie takers who post about the brand relentlessly on social media. It is built to satisfy a very online clientele, mass-producing cheap clothes that look expensive. “They need to buy a lot of different styles and probably only wear them a couple times so their Instagram feeds can stay fresh,” Richard Saghian, Fashion Nova’s founder, said in an interview last year. To enable that habit, he gives them a constant stream of new options that are priced to sell. Fashion Nova’s skintight denim goes for $24.99. And, Saghian said, the company can get its clothes made “in less than two weeks,” often by manufacturers in Los Angeles, a short drive from the company’s headquarters. That model hints at an ugly secret behind the brand’s runaway success: The federal Labor Department has found that many Fashion Nova garments are stitched together by a workforce in the United States that is paid illegally low wages. However, when The New York Times broke the story that Fashion Nova was exploiting Los Angeles-based sweatshops, no one really blinked an eye. It was a breaking story that wasn’t really breaking news.

 For clothes so cheap, sweatshops are kind of expected. The revelation that these are American sweatshops, though, probably should’ve ruffled a few more feathers. That’s partly because there’s a false sense of righteousness that owes its existence to word associations. “Made in the USA,” especially, is often a false flag operation of a buzzword. When someone sees an item is made in America, there are certain (wrong) assumptions made:

– That it’s made with fair labor practices.

– That it’s directly supporting American businesses that are ethical.

– That even if it is cheap, it’s somehow thanks to a loophole and not shady production.

 In all situations, some of these — or all—are sometimes true. But the old adages of “too good to be true” and “having your cake and eating it too” (the clothing being the cake, the peace of mind that comes from ethical business practices being the eating) ring very true here. There’s a certain general consensus that when bad things happen, they’re usually worlds away (either distance or class) and never right in our own backyard.

 But fast fashion’s dark side is happening in our own backyard, and you have to wonder whether or not anyone even cares. Los Angeles is a biting dichotomy: activists and influencers shout about human rights, meanwhile sweatshops are a dirty little secret. It’s not in China, but in America that workers put in grueling 12-hour days, making garments that will be sold for anywhere from $5 to $75 for around three cents apiece paid out. The goal of making what amounts to five dollars an hour is in reality a pipe dream for them. Just ask Mercedes Cortes, 56, who sewed Fashion Nova clothes for several months at Coco Love, a dusty factory close to Fashion Nova’s offices in Vernon, California. “There were cockroaches. There were rats,” she said. “The conditions weren’t good.” She worked every day of the week, but her pay varied depending on how quickly her fingers could move. Ms. Cortes was paid for each piece of a shirt she sewed together―about four cents to sew on each sleeve, five cents for each of the side seams, eight cents for the seam on the neckline. On average, she earned $270 in a week, the equivalent of $4.66 an hour, she said.

 The majority of this workforce is, unsurprisingly, comprised of undocumented immigrants who are left with few other choices for work. According to the California Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the over 46,000 individuals who make up Los Angeles’s second-largest industry (the so-called “cut-and-sew” labor force), a whopping 71% are immigrants. “It has all the advantages of a sweatshop system,” said David Weil, who led the United States Labor Department’s wage and hour division from 2014 to 2017. “Consumers can say, ‘Well, of course that’s what it’s like in Bangladesh or Vietnam,’ but they are developing countries,” Mr. Weil said. “People just don’t want to believe it’s true in their own backyard.” The issue of undocumented immigrants will always be a political one, but at the end of the day, it’s a matter of questioning the value of a human life. Whether documented or not, do we care about these people? Does the average consumer—the target demographic of the fast fashion industry—care that their trendy new boots were paid for with pennies, putting a literal dollar value on a worker’s life? Or does that $25 price point make it worth it?

 Gildan Activewear, known better to the public for purchasing American Apparel, was one of the first fast fashion brands to come under the microscope after that purchase. While American Apparel had long been known for their “Made in the USA” claims, that previously long-held perception was no more, as they now used factories primarily in the Caribbean and Central America, and the public noticed.

 The recent article on Fashion Nova in The New York Times takes that scandal a step further by acknowledging that the fast fashion brand may be indeed using American-based labor, but that labor is unethical as heck. The American factories they use owe over $3.8 million in wages to workers. Ms. Cortes was one such worker. In 2016, she left Coco Love and later reached a settlement with the company for $5,000 in back wages. She continued to work in factories sewing Fashion Nova clothes, noticing the $12 price tags on the tops she had stitched together for cents. “The clothes are very expensive for what they pay us,” Ms. Cortes said. After repeated violations were found at factories making Fashion Nova clothes, federal officials met with company representatives. “We have already had a highly productive and positive meeting with the Department of Labor in which we discussed our ongoing commitment to ensuring that all workers involved with the Fashion Nova brand are appropriately compensated for the work they do,” Erica Meierhans, Fashion Nova’s general counsel, said in a statement to The New York Times. “Any suggestion that Fashion Nova is responsible for underpaying anyone working on our brand is categorically false.”

 All this is bad, yes, but we can’t pretend it’s anything new. It’s an easy lie to believe that buying American-made over Chinese-made earns us enough Good Place points, but the system is more complicated than that. And it can only continue to be that messed up as long as we choose to ignore it. Fashion Nova has tapped into a goldmine. They’ve jumped on influencer marketing that creates an aspirational aesthetic that is actually attainable. And for the middle class of America, living the Kardashian lifestyle is an ideal that once seemed so far out of reach. Being offered a shiny apple of fast fashion leads to a rotten garden of human rights violations.

 Using American influencers helps perpetuate the illusion of organic ethics. If our own homegrown darlings, ones who also aren’t born into luxury, are proudly wearing and marketing these clothes, how bad can they be? If they’re made in the USA, then what’s the harm? Turns out, there’s a lot of harm. The hated sweatshops of old are happily entrenched in the economy of home. In fact, the Department of Labor investigated garment factories in Los Angeles and found that 85 percent of them have wage violations. The fact that many of these workers are undocumented may make it easier, subconsciously, to let it slide when it’s happening on our own soil.

 The pendulum of consumer practices swings wildly between “cheap” and “ethical,” with a sweet spot middle ground becoming harder and harder to find. Overall, the piece in The New York Times isn’t breaking news. It hardly even qualifies as surprising. What does matter, though, is what we do with the information. With Fashion Nova’s and other similar brands’ revenues and popularity only rising, we’ve got an unpleasant answer for at least one socioeconomic group: it’s all right for fast fashion to be an ethical corrupter if we value money over the cost of a human life.




メールアドレスが公開されることはありません。 * が付いている欄は必須項目です