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I love fashion. I’ve always loved it. I celebrate fashion week like it’s a holiday. But earlier this year, I realized the true cost of my trendy clothes when I met a group of women I’d been stealing from my whole life.
As part of an exchange program, I traveled eight thousand miles, from Oakland, CA to Dhaka, Bangladesh.
On a tour of Dhaka, I visited a factory that was making clothes for some of my favorite brands. The sound of whooshing looms and the chemical smell of dye filled the air. But it was watching a young girl, sewing a pair of jeans that made me feel sick.
Before I’d seen the factory, I was so flattered when my new Bangladeshi friends had complimented my elegant name-brand button down. They were proud that the tag on the shirt said “Made in Bangladesh.” But after, all I wanted to do was wrap my traditional Bangladeshi shawl around me to cover the shame I felt.
Since I got back from Bangladesh, I haven’t purchased any sweatshop clothes. Because there’s a hidden cost in cheap clothing. It involves someone’s livelihood, education and life.