Sustainable Swimwear Alts To The £1 Missguided Bikini
Missguided is selling a £1 bikini in the UK, which presents a desperate problem for sustainability in fashion while revealing just how out-of-touch some fast-fashion retailers really are.
Sure, finding a good deal on your favourite swimsuit or bikini is always a welcomed occurence, yet there’s a line and it needs to be drawn.
This week, online fast fashion retailer Missguided came under fire concerning the environmental impact of a bikini retailing for £1. The bikini, which Dazed reports was released last week, is a solid black set with a top and bottom and is currently sold out.
Clearly appealing to some (this was the second time the fast fashion label has dropped the item and both times promptly sold out), a bikini that sells for less than your average flat white coffee should be ringing giant alarm bells. And thankfully, it did to many others, who took to Twitter to condemn the bikini, as they discussed the exploitation of workers and the environmental ramifications of offering such a product.
You might be paying £1 for a missguided bikini with free delivery but the implication of your purchasing will have consequences for garment workers + the environment. Everyone ends up paying for it along the line.
— fleur (@infleurtile) June 14, 2019
When it comes down to it, several things contribute to the final price of merchandise: the production, packaging, shipping, and more. If the end price of an item, in this case, is £1, which is likely not reflective of the process, how much money is being returned to workers? Notably, Missguided was one of the labels found to be working with UK-based sweatshops, as detailed in a Channel 4 Dispatches undercover investigation in 2017.
The bikini in question is in fact comprised of
Sarah Ditty, policy director at Fashion Revolution, explained the impact of purchasing a product that’s compromised mostly of polyester. “The problem is the message this sends about the value of our clothing,” she tells Teen Vogue. “This is a huge environmental problem because we are already sending too many clothes to landfill and incineration, about one garbage truckful every second. Plus, the fashion industry accounts for more carbon emissions than shipping and air travel combined and our polyester clothes are polluting our seas.”
She encouraged consumers to look past the price, no matter how low it may be. “We need to ensure that any garment we buy will be loved, used, and cherished for years, not just days or weeks,” Sarah said. “This is why, when garments are priced as cheaply as single-use items, it sends the message that our clothing is disposable. And if we buy that message, we are buying into a very ugly side of fashion.”
The Telegraph tweeted about the bikini and said it “is deeply problematic, it’s time for the government to step in on fast fashion”.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) June 18, 2019
It is also worth recognising that in some cases, affordable fashion options might be the only items that can fit in someone’s budget. As Orsola de Castro, co-founder, and creative director of Fashion Revolution explained, “There are very few options to navigate this situation, but lengthening the lifespan of cheap clothing by caring for them is one way of demanding better quality of product and a better life for its makers.” In light of this, she encouraged consumers to demand more from the brands they choose to support, saying, “Keep speaking up and asking questions, even if there absolutely aren’t enough satisfactory answers.”
We need to ensure that any garment we buy will be loved, used, and treasured for years, not just days or weeks. Clothing should not be disposable commodities. Instead, we could and should be doing more to prevent the outcomes of climate change. As a starting point, in this instance, they could probably start by not making ludicrously cheap items that will likely end up in the bin as soon as the summer is over.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to save some money, especially when it comes to clothing. But instead of reaching for the cheapest item, consider whether you truly need the piece in your wardrobe. We need to ensure that any garment we buy will be loved, used, and treasured for years, not just days or weeks. Clothing should not be disposable commodities. Instead, we could and should be doing more to prevent the outcomes of climate change. As a starting point, in this instance, they could probably start by not making ridiculously cheap items that will likely end up in the bin as soon as the summer is over. Taking small steps as consumers, whether it’s more thoughtful washing practices or reading the labels before you purchase an item can all contribute to creating a more sustainable future for fashion. One that we can all enjoy!