Behind Closed Doors: What Lies Behind Cheap Apparel?

Click, add to cart. But have you ever wondered what’s behind that €8.99 summer dress you’re buying? Hint: it’s not where you want your money to go.

Two decades ago, there was a shift in the fashion industry. Clothes became cheaper and more accessible, while brands cycled through trends at unprecedented rates to catch up with demand.[1] Outsourcing became a popular choice as companies turned to cost and pricing strategies as the modern-day battlefield. But outsourcing came at a cost – one that would only be realized years later. Here’s why that price tag is just too good to be true.


CO2 = the new currency

In recent years environmental degradation by textile productions has reached 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year – that’s more than international aviation and shipping emissions combined.[2] By allocating manufacturing and dyeing processes to coal-reliant nations, as a society, we expanded pollution. Coal is one of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels we can burn, which can negatively impact the surrounding communities.[3] In Bangladesh 22,000 liters of toxic waste is dumped into rivers every day by tanneries alone. To support more sustainable clothing practices, check out these 15 carbon neutral fashion brands today.


Designed to be thrown

The fashion industry generates 92 million tons of textile waste each year. A straightforward solution would be recycling, right? But it’s not that simple. Low-grade and inexpensive clothes are made of fiber blends. When it comes to recycling, these garments are incompatible with each other, and they can’t be recycled without a complex and costly sorting process. Consequently, only 1% of textile waste is truly recycled.[4] To discover brands that create beautiful designs from recycled materials, click here.

Low prices, lower wages

When deciding where to make clothes, companies often pick areas with low working wages and few protections for workers. At present, more than 60% of clothing is manufactured in developing countries with subpar regulations. Garment workers can be subjected to heavy labor abuses, ranging from little pay and forced work to unhealthy and dangerous environments.[5] According to the Oxfam Report “What She Makes,” almost the entirety of fast fashion workers in countries such as Bangladesh or Vietnam earn below a living wage. Go against the grain and shop from these 10 ethical brands that care and invest in people, building strong communities around the world.



[1] “What Is Fast Fashion and Why Is It So Bad?” | Good on you. Available at:

[2] “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion’s future” | Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Available at:

[3] “What’s wrong with the fashion industry?” | Sustain Your Style. Available at:

[4] “Fast fashion, loose ethics: the human and environmental cost of cheap clothing and what we can do about it” | The Lovepost. Available at:

[5] “Our love of cheap clothing has a hidden cost – it’s time for a fashion revolution” | World Economic Forum. Available at:


Author: Naomy Gmyrek