The 2 Euro T-shirt

 

This video is a great reminder of the impact of our fashion apparel industry, in particular through trade and sourcing. One key learning objective of FASH455 is to help students get aware of those critical global agendas that are highly relevant to the textile and apparel sector.

Discussion Question: After watching the video, do you have any new thoughts about how you can contribute to the building of a better world as a FASH major?

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Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

30 thoughts on “The 2 Euro T-shirt”

  1. After our case study discussion in class and after watching this video I have definitely found myself asking the question “Now what can I do?” I don’t think that this problem can be fixed quickly; it will be a process that will probably span many years. But I firmly believe that the first step is educating the public. This video is a great example of one of the many things that companies as well as NGOs can start doing in order to start getting their message out. We also mentioned in class that advertisements on TV could also be a very good way to reach people and show them the truth about where their cheap clothing is coming from. If we are able to change people’s views about the clothing they are buying then perhaps we as a society can start moving forward and helping those who are trapped in third world countries. As I mentioned before, positive changes for people in the garment industry working in these factories is a process and can only happen step by step. By focusing on specific problems one at a time then we might be able to see positive results. Personally the safety conditions of these people would be number one, then maybe focus on fair salary, etc., etc. There are many problems with this industry as we discussed in class but maybe by tackling them one step at a time we can make a difference in the future. As for right now, it is very important to appeal to people emotions, as it said in this ad: “people care when they know.”

    1. Very well said!! I feel the same way after the case study. Indeed, social responsibility in the garment industry is a quite complicated issue, and the solution requires a joint effort by all parties involved: the factory owner, government, fashion brands, civil society, and consumers.

  2. This video is a great example of our discussion in class. As fashion students, we are aware of the way that apparel is made around the world and we, as consumers, can make decisions based off of that. Other people who are not in this industry, are not as educated about where their apparel comes from. As this video shows, if more people were educated about the supply chain before they made their purchases, there would be a higher demand for ethical practices in the apparel factories. Someone in class mentioned that labor organizations should put PSA’s on the television (similar to the ones for smoking) to show the consumers the life of the women who work in the factories. I think this is a great idea and it would help to get a large amount of people to care about these issues. This video really solidified our discussion in class and makes me think about how important it is to educate the average consumer about the effects that “cheap apparel” has around the world.

    1. Absolutely! It is also interesting to note that apparel brands seldom “advertise” their social responsibility practices either, especially during the holiday season like the Thanksgiving…

  3. After watching the video, I realized that if people know the process of the cheap clothing, they might change their mind and change their shopping behavior. However, it is not a situation that could be changed immediately because business want profit and workers need jobs. hopefully the situation will get better step by step. but at least as a fashion student, I’ d better start to do something, and spread the idea to the people around me.

    1. In my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with “cheap clothing” itself. But the issue at stake is how to achieve that: through technology advancement, innovation, and improved supply chain management or through unacceptable social responsibility practices…

  4. Like discussed in class on Thursday and watching this video, overall there is no quick fix to this solution. You cannot get developed countries all on the same page to consider the issues abroad about clothing. This video here shows people wanting to donate the ‘$2’ shirt that they were going to buy after seeing who made it and where it was coming from. However it is super unrealistic to do this at every store or plaza in developed countries and to have to remind them. This of course is bringing awareness to the issue but unfortunately how many people after doing this experiment still buy clothing for a bargain?

    Now a days I try not to buy clothing that I don’t think I will personally wear longer than a year. I really try and be savvy with my money and how I want to spend it. From being a fashion major and just having the basic knowledge about fast fashion and how it’s hurting our environment I have tried to steer away from purchasing the $10 from Urban Outfitters that I’ll wear 3x in a year and then never again. Change is slow moving and never happens over night. I think raising awareness and bringing it up for people to understand what’s happening in developing countries as well as how it affects us as well could be a decent first step in moving in that direction.

  5. The following comment is posted on behalf of alexsilano
    After watching this video and thinking about our discussion that we had in class, I am more determined to try and make a difference in this industry. We are the next generation of CEOs and fashion gurus, it is our job to make this industry more sustainable in every way, and I truly believe it is possible with the right amount of passion and support. Like the video said, people care when they know. The problem with society right now is that no one is really educated about this topic, therefore no one is taking a stand. As a fashion major, I want to make it my priority to spread the word and make a change on this industry. The fashion industry has created a world where people are in search for the lowest price garment and the best “deal” they can find. No one is thinking about what goes on behind the making of that garment and how that garment is only cheap for consumers because the company paid minimal dollars to the people making it. With more companies having a care in this issue and putting forth ethical practices, this problem in the industry can be fixed. When more and more global brands start to have a transparent supply chain, the customer will start to be aware of what is behind the clothing they are wearing and be more aware of what they buy and who they buy it from.

  6. I think this video completely embodies the type of consumers that exist today.Many are willing to make a change after they are presented with all the information regarding who made their clothing. The people in the video were willing to buy clothing because its cheap regardless if they needed it or not however, after the video which showed the environment and the conditions factories workers had to endure to make our inexpensive clothing. I think it shows how little consumers actually know about their clothing and whose making it, however when given the opportunity, they were willing to make a difference and donate. I think more consumers should be aware of where their clothing is coming from. Some retailers like Patagonia have become transparent with their sourcing information so that customers can be informed.

  7. I absolutely loved this video, I think more action, similar to this one, should be taken in order to inform the public of the products they are purchasing. I think this approach is so smart and moving that people would go home and research more about the topic in order to feel fully informed. I think they should have installations like these all over the U.S., in major and minor cities. In addition, I have loved the video’s shown in class where it takes a product and rewinds its lifestyle, so having something similar to that and this installation transformed into a commercial that is shown on major channels and during major events so that it ensures maximum coverage. This video is relatable, because yes, if you see a shirt for 2 euros, you’re going to want to buy it, only because it is so cheap, however, consumer must begin to think about the consequences of their actions and it seems like this social experiment truly caught their attention and made them question the fashion industry further.

  8. This video is an excellent example of the discussion we had in class about the Bangladesh case study. It is easy to blame consumers because we are the ones buying the clothing and creating a further demand that these mistreated people have to produce. However, it is so unfair to expect that people that do not work in the fashion industry or keep up with fashion news know where their garments are coming from or know the expense at which the people creating them are suffering. This video creates such a valid conversation that if people knew about the horrible production methods that were being used to create their garments, they would not be as willing to purchase them and support a company that would treat people this way. This is the reason I do not believe that tragedies such as the Rana Plaza Collapse are the consumers responsibility.

  9. As a FASH student, I am educated in the reality of textile and apparel factories overseas. However many people outside the major are not. When many struggling college students go shopping, they tend to look for bargains. What they do not know is exactly how they are getting these bargains. If more people knew about the horrors of the factories and the workers, I am sure that they would not purchase these clothes. Fast fashion and cheap retailers in general are not only polluting the earth with poorly made clothes that will most likely be thrown out soon after purchasing, but they are also cruel to the factory workers.

    More people should be educated about the conditions that factory workers are in when they make said products. One possible option is to have ad campaigns about the topic, similar to the anti-smoking campaigns that we see on television. If more people knew about the workers then I believe that less people would purchase these clothes.

  10. I found this video to be very powerful. It demonstrates how impactful awareness really is. If these 2 euro t-shirts were sold on the shelves in a clothing store, no one would think twice about purchasing it, however because the vending machine brought the potential consumer through a timeline of what went on to get this t-shirt to be only 2 euro the consumer most definitely thought twice about purchasing and instead decided to donate 2 euros rather than get the 2 euros in exchange for the shirt. This video demonstrates that if the textile and apparel industry were to reveal and open the eyes of the consumer to the issues of producing such inexpensive clothing over seas it could positively effect the people in these poor working conditions. With the rise of technology and social media, our generation can use these platforms to our advantage to expose what is happening and spread awareness. Spreading awareness, getting information across to a great amount of people has never been so easy. And because most people nowadays have such a short attention span, social media is a great platform because you can only put so much information on a post, so it helps get the point across succintcly. As long as people are aware of the negative effects they may incur based upon their purchases, I believe there will be change.

  11. As a FASH student at UD, and especially as a student taking FASH655 I think that I can contribute my knowledge. Being a student in this class has taught me a lot about the fashion industry. As a fashion student we already know that there is more to fashion than just clothes, but for people that are not involved in the depths of the industry, they just think that everything is glamorous, that all we study and focus on is new fashion trends and designers. When it comes to our major I believe the saying “Everything that glitters, isnt gold” is beyond true. What I am learning in FASH655 is not as shocking to me as it would be to someone that thinks fashion is just about bargain shopping and trying to find the most stylish pieces for the best prices. What people dont know is that these “bargain prices” come with a horrible life and working conditions for someone somewhere else in the world. The problem is that people are not aware of what is really going on in the world and what is really able to afford companies the luxury of selling a shirt for $5. The problem is that somewhere in the world, someone is producing the products that we crave for less than a dollar while working insane hours and their living conditions are even worse. I can contribute by spreading the word and sharing the information i am learning in case studies and in class with my friends and family so that they become aware and eventually tell people that they know and so forth. People would be more willing to help if they actually knew and understood what was happening in the world so the best thing for us to do would be to spread awareness and I think the idea behind this video was a great start, expose consumers to the truth behind the bargains that they crave.

  12. After watching the video, I encourage people to educate themselves on the dangers of supporting cheap clothing industries due to the complications that come in producing and manufacturing them. It is also not in the consumer’s best interest to buy cheaper merchandise because the quality is so low, although you paid a small price for it, you still may not be receiving your money’s work.

  13. I believe that at times as fashion majors, we underestimate the capacity of knowledge that we are given and what are can truly do with it. The fashion industry is one in which is ever changing and so vast. One thing that has somewhat recently (under 10 years or so) stuck is the act of being socially responsible and sustainable. Not polluting rivers, harmful chemicals being released into the environment, not harming animals, people and the earth during production, sourcing, etc. The list goes on for the the topics in which can be effected to keep this industry alive and running. Among the hundreds of things I find captivating about being a fashion major, something I find myself passionate about is learning about sustainability. We are provided with quite a few courses and professors that thoroughly enjoy educating us on this and it is fascinating! With that, I plan to continue this “chain of education” and keep informing anyone that I possibly can on the benefits of choosing to be social responsible and aware of the effects AND harms NOT practicing sustainability can achieve. I believe that it starts with small, little differences and eventually one big change will come from all of the minor alterations.

  14. This video is really moving and reminds me specifically of how impact my major is to the rest of the world. My dream is to work for a company that is socially responsible in all regards– from the bottom up. The social experiment was so successful because of the message it sends- people care when they know. Big fashion brands try to hide how these clothes were made behind flashy labels and displays. This wasn’t necessarily a problem 20-30 years ago considering a lot of manufacturing was done in the U.S. Perhaps this is a sign that we need to change consumer behavior somehow. Some companies have made strides towards this, such as Levi’s with the campaign concerning washing jeans less. However, there is a lot of work to be done in regards to workers rights. As an industry, we should push for harsher punishments on companies that are liable for unsafe work conditions. This needs to end, and the place to start is the consumers with the buying power.

  15. This video was very eyeopening to me. I enjoyed this social experiment and think that it was needed so people could understand just how detrimental the fashion industry could be to the people making our cheap clothing. When we purchase extremely cheap clothing, we don’t automatically think about the people making it or the environment that they work in. I’m guilty of this and I usually just search for the best deals when shopping, but I think it’s extremely important to be educated on what is happening around the world in the fashion industry.

    As a FASH major, I can contribute towards making the world a better place by being more conscious when I shop. For instance, I can check the labels of clothes I’m interested in buying. If the label reads Bangladesh, I can assume that the workers making these clothes are not treated with respect and do not work in good conditions, especially because of what I know about the Rana Plaza tragedy. This will definitely play a role in my buying decision. I also want to become more aware of what I am buying. There are so many items in my closet that still have the tags on them or that I have worn a few times and have thrown out. I can combat this by purchasing items I know I will wear more and donating the clothes I’m through with so that they don’t end up in a landfill. Lastly, I can make the world a better place through fashion by educating people about the dangers that may follow cheap clothing. I think the fashion industry is underrated and people aren’t aware about the unsafe conditions that employees work in in developing countries. Being a FASH major, it is important that I make people aware of these issues in hopes that they will make smarter and more conscious buying decisions. Changing the industry won’t happen over night, but a little change day by day can have a huge impact on the fashion industry and the consumers that add to it.

  16. This video was quite interesting and it was cool to see that after learning facts about the industry in which they were buying from, they didn’t want that product anymore. There are so many things that us FASH majors can do to build a better world. Going into the fashion merchandising program, I wasn’t thinking about anything besides fashion trends. I thought thats all I would be learning about. I was completely wrong. I’ve learned more in Fash 455 than I have in any other classes combined. I have learned that us college students will be the future. We will be able to help the world and create change for the fashion industry, the economy, the environment, etc. I’m excited to see where my future goes because I can guarantee I will be working in someway or another to improve the fashion industry and make it something that I am proud of.

  17. After watching this video I realized how consumers are always out to get the lowest price for a good. Being a fashion student, I have been educated on how cheap products are made: using child labor, poor working conditions, unsafe working conditions etc. Majority of the population may not be educated on what goes on behind the scenes when crating the product they are buying at a low price. I believe if ad campaigns were created to educate consumers on the issues behind cheap goods, people will be less inclined to be concerned with price and more concerned about the social issues surrounding these goods. Ads placed in magazines, on TV, on social media would reach a large population of people. If pubic figures, such as celebrities or politicians were featured in these ads consumers would be more likely to pay closer attention to the message these campaigns are trying to get across

  18. I think that education and information are two of the most important things that we can do as a part of the fashion industry, so that consumers can make informed buying decisions. This video put the reality into the faces of the people who are most likely the most frequent users of the fast-fashion industry. I enjoyed the fact that you were able to donate the money after you watched the video and I think that them putting a name to the problem and educating people whether they wanted to learn or not is how we are going to see solutions. And obviously not everyone who shops in fast fashion is a bad person; some people simply cannot afford more sustainable and ethically made clothing and need fast fashion and it’s low prices. Education is a train and one person can tell 5 more about the problem once they are informed so I think that is the most important take-away form this short video.

  19. This was one of the most powerful videos I have watched and have mentioned this to many of my friends and family members. One thing we are lacking in the US is knowledge about issues such as the global T&A industry. Americans would rather be naive about where they are getting there fast fashion clothing than understand what went into making these products. After seeing how much work and hardships people go through to make a $2 t-shirt and the lack of knowledge from consumers is disheartening. I loved the idea of the booth, and the fact that a handful of people that day had helped such a great organization makes me feel grateful that there are people out there who care and are spreading awareness. Unfortunately, us as consumers drive this sort of behavior of wanting the cheapest deal for clothing, but if everyone knew what had gone into these cheap products, would consumers shopping habits change? If world-wide campaigns started to fill up our social medias, I wonder if our consumer markets could shift to outweigh fast fashion mindset for the greater good of these workers.

  20. This video truly embraces one of the main problems in our current apparel industry, as well as revealing a lot about the American consumer. We have come to expect the cheapest possible prices for our apparel. We all know in the back of our mind that perhaps our clothing wasn’t produced under the best conditions, but we often turn the other cheek to have a few extra dollars in our bank accounts. Only when we are physically shown things such as this do we actually start to care. Ideas such as this 2$ T-shirt booth prove to be effective, as most consumers ultimately made the correct choice. However, since we aren’t presented with this type of information every time we make a purchase, we often forget or fail to care about where or how our cheap clothes come from. I think this company should continue conducting these kinds of experiments, because only then will people care enough to make a change. I do believe that most consumers are good at heart and would want to help improve working conditions overseas- we just need to inspire more people to do so.

  21. This video was very eye-opening for me and inspires me to educate and encourage my peers and family members to really research where they are buying their clothes from. It is wildly unpleasant to watch how much work goes into creating just a $2 garment and how little people know about how much effort is really spent. It really makes me think about how much money I spend on very cheap, disposable clothing at stores such as H&M and Forever 21. Sometimes a consumer can buy an item of clothing and wear it a total of 3-4 times before it is considered “out of style” and then discarded. It is crazy that this happens and so little thought is put into doing this horrible practice. Educating people on the dangers of fast-fashion is so necessary in today’s society in order to make a true change. It would benefit so many of my friends greatly if they saw this video and vowed to change their buying habits into spending their money on more sustainable clothing. Seeing how much effort is put into such a small dollar amount of money would really help people understand why they should change their buying and spending habits and maybe encourage them to do so!

  22. This video really spoke to me because this is the reason I loved and learned so much from this course. I remember after just a few classes I would call my mom and say “did you know this?” did you know that?” because I found it so interesting how uninformed I was and knew she would be too. Unless you have a specific source relaying this information to you many people don’t know. Fast fashion has become such an issue because people are focused on getting the best stuff for the cheapest. This is a problem because when your buying that 5$ shirt you aren’t thinking that a girl behind the scenes was slaving overtime with below minimum wage to make it on time with limited resources. I think what was demonstrated in this video needs to be shown to more people because it really is true that without the knowledge you can’t help. That is the reason I’d like to open others eyes about this so that they will feel the same way I do.

  23. As a fashion student I am made aware of the working conditions in textile and apparel factories all around the world. I have a better understanding of who is making my clothing and I can adjust my shopping habits because of this. But, there are so many people who just don’t know. It’s not because they don’t care, it’s just that people haven’t told them and made them aware. As the video said, “People care when they know.” It’s the responsibility of those who do know, including fashion students, to help raise awareness and inform people of where their clothing is coming from, who is making it and the conditions in which these items are made. When people see videos like this it sparks something within them and they can carry that around and be reminded of it when they go shopping.

    1. This is a great point! I also have a follow-up question: why do you think fashion brands and retailers are often blamed for not caring about workers’ working conditions? Aren’t the sourcing decisions are also made by staffs of these brands and retailers, who are supposed to have sufficient knowledge about the issue of social responsibility? Interested in your thoughts!

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