Futurology blog: what’s the next trend that’ll disrupt our world, financially, socially or just pointlessly?

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Nudity: the only answer to sweatshops

Mass-produced clothes are such an ethical minefield. The only way we can be absolutely sure about the conditions under which they‘re produced is if they actually have a label saying “Produced by under-aged pre-teens working 12 hours a day for a plate of gruel.”

So in the end we just kind of buy what we can afford and hope for the best. OK, I know that American Apparel is made in LA (I’ve seen the factory) and Xara is made in Spain but if the newspapers told us tomorrow that the stuff was being sneaked in the back door of the factory from containers imported from an underground child labour camp in Birmingham, we’d probably just shrug, sigh and reach for our Fairtrade cups of coffee which we’re pretty sure come from real hill farmers but may just be channeled through a hill farmer who’s really a front for a multinational drugs gang.

One way to get around the clothing guilt thing is to buy second hand clothes, which is fine except someone’s got to buy the stuff first hand to make it second hand for us ethical types. It’s really just a matter of deferring the guilt. Besides, what about the people in the developing world who’re getting most of the second hand clothing now? If the stuff stayed in our wardrobes or just ended up at the neighbours, what would they wear and what would all the middlemen around the globe who deal in second hand clothing do for a living?

(Well, there is the chance that all the textile companies that were forced to close down when their markets were swamped by the West’s discarded clothing could start up again, but it’s probably a bit late for that.)

No, the answer is to wear nothing. No guilt, no shame. Just the flesh you were born with. And if you’re arrested, your defence would be that of the environmental activitists who were acquitted from damaging the Kingsnorth power station in Kent: “I admit my crime but I committed it purely to prevent a greater crime.”

Coming soon to a news channel near you.

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