What price would you pay for fashion? Some pay top dollar for designer pieces but practically everyone wants the cheapest, most affordable, clothing they can find. Fashion is a huge industry and when a bargain catches a person’s attention it can be hard to ignore. When shoppers at Alexander Platz in Berlin saw a shiny turquoise vending machine selling 2€ T-shirts they quickly stepped up to purchase the cheap items. After inserting money and selecting their size no new shirt came right out. Instead, potential customers were met with a video that started to play on the screen.
The short clip introduced them to Manisha, a young girl who works in a factory making clothes that are sold at very low prices. Conditions there are cramped, crowded, poor and unsafe. She makes only 13 cents an hour and works 16 hour days, which is why the company selling the shirts is able to do so at such low prices. She is only one face out of the millions who work everyday in these deplorable and inhumane conditions. When the video stops it poses a simple question “Do you still want to buy this 2€ T-shirt?” It then offers two choices; buy or donate. Eight out of ten shoppers chose to donate. The reactions captured were shock, sadness, disbelief and many simply shook their heads or frowned.
The social experiment was set up to test whether people would still choose to buy clothing even if they knew of the deplorable conditions under which it was manufactured. The aim was to highlight the need for greater transparency about where our clothes come from. It took place on Fashion Revolution Day, April 24th, which is held in memory of the 1,133 workers who were killed in Bangladesh when the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in 2013. Ideally, brands will step up and take responsibility to protect the health and welfare of the people and places they rely on to supply their businesses. Until they actually do, the Fashion Revolution Project will continue to fight and work for improving conditions. Raising awareness and highlighting the issue is only the first step.