Alessandra Mezzadri explains how productivity barely covers anything in fast fashion prices.

In April this year, the UK multi-channel retail brand Missguided advertised the sale of a £1 bikini. It was advertised as a one-off special deal to celebrate ten years of empowering women to look and feel good “without breaking the bank”. The publicity stunt backfired spectacularly. While many customers bought the product – the retailer sold 1,000 pieces a day – at the same time, many journalists, and other influencers, including a rising group of ethical fashionistas, condemned the saleas morally reprehensible, socially unacceptable and environmentally destructive. All true, clearly.

Specifically, the sale of a bikini for this kind of price is bad news for garment workers. The economies of scale needed for such a price to incorporate a fair wage would probably require a market tens of times the size of our planet’s population. On the other hand,

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Alessandra Mezzadri

Alessandra is Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at SOAS, London. Her research interests focus on global industrial circuits, labour informality and unfreedom in factories and home working networks; sweatshops, labour …

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