Outplaying Role Models In Retail

FREDERIQUE DE RIDDER

 

The celebration of the holidays without its holiday shopping spree in advance, has for many become impossible to imagine. Clothing stores’ advertisements online and in the streets, feed the need to look presentative, in a flawless foolproof outfit during the social events of the holiday season. After having normalised the “working from home” setting, the possibility to break from anything that is related to the pandemic, is universally desired. To which the retail industry responds. Comparable to new year’s resolutions, flourishingly renouncing the old, inevitably brings the introduction of an infallible new. It is however being overlooked that this is distinctively taking place during the celebration of a year en-ding. A kept-together life reveals its legitimacy in properly kept together outfit. In full regalia, every week.

 

The perception of seasons according to the logic of “seasonal collections” in fast fashion does not follow the 4 yearly indicative periods, since new collections of leading fast fashion industry companies tend introduce new collections 50 times per year.

The alluring launches of over 500 new weekly designs by Inditex stores such as Zara, Berschka and Pull&Bear i.e. deprives its consumers from maintaining a fixed interior of their own wardrobes. Even if one would consider personally not to find their clothes outdated after one week, the freshly-bought items will make that decision for them by showing signs of damage. Buttons are missing, the fabric overstretched, zippers are a disappointment and its color vanishes after one day of laundry. This vicious circle encourages Zara, besides to remain leading in speediest sell outs, to allow the necessity to start a every week anew. Last weeks’ standards are namely literally outworn. Consumers are trapped in a loop, on the unspoken weekly established guilt to renounce damage by introducing “clean sheets”. Based on a fabricated obsession with new.

The Spanish multi-billionaire Amancio Ortega, was surprised by sounds of sirens when ambulances were entering his street on the 28th of March 2020. The initiative was taken to congratulate Ortega with his birthday bombastically, including a praise clapping-celebration which was held on the balconies in the neighborhood of his house in A Coruña. 

 It is fair to say that Amancio, the former CEO of Inditex, is considered to be a national hero in Spain after having outplayed the game of being a retailer strategist. This glorification was thanks to his actions concerning Covid-19 complications which were threatening to affect lives of the Spanish population, including Inditex employers who are working in the Inditex stores and distribution centrals. As a result of having closed more than 3000 stores during the midst of the pandemic, Ortega pivoted from controlling his fashion empire to launch the supply of medical equipment worth of millions from China. This led to the imposing purchase of medical material worth of 63 million euros to contribute to combatting the Coronavirus. Including 1450 respirators, three million masks for health workers, million test-ing kits and other medical equip-ment.

The generosity stops however when crossing the European continental border. At the locations of the actual manufacturing industries, exploitation namely surfaces. “Workers put in 11-hour shifts six days a week earning 3.50 to 4.74 dollars per day.” 

Meanwhile, the list of factories it sources clothing from, remains hidden. In other words, the people who are actually paying for the low prices in fast fashion industry are kept out of sight and remain therefore out of proper concern. While people were praising and singing “happy birthday” on the balconies in A Coruña, the voices of the manufacturers on the other side of the world remained silenced. When more than 500 workers in the two Inditex factories in Myanmar voiced the demand to be supplied with masks to wear during their shifts, they faced the response of being fired. Alongside, every single member of the workers union was fired after reports came in from a woman who had been sexually harassed last year. The possibility to organise however, is non-existing since physically rising up collectively would go against the measure of keeping social distance. In other words, the western weekly constructive wardrobe changes of consumers go at the expense of the continuation of the manufac-turers oppressive working environments.

Renouncing damage does not have to revolve around an imposed rupture which is directed by a market. Considering the moment of proposing new year’s resolutions, it could be a convenient time to reevaluate the implication of “clean sheets”. What fit is considered to be “fresh”, when people who are selling them are having blood on their hands? There is a tendency in which the glorification of heroes, overshadows the essential actors who are allowing the hero to be one. A new year could start fresh, if there can be start in acknowledging those essential actors, by ignoring that presentation needs to revolve around showing up anytime polished and sleek. Frankly said, why don’t we start this week?