#290: Dying for Fashion

Longtime style reporter Dana Thomas’s book, Fashionopolis, is an indictment of the true costs of fashion—like poisoned water, crushed workers, and overflowing landfills—that never make it onto the price tag of a dress or pair of jeans. Between 2000 and 2014, the annual number of garments produced doubled to 100 billion: 14 new garments per person per year for every person on the planet. The average garment is only worn seven times before being tossed—assuming it’s not one of the 20 billion clothing items that go unsold and unworn. It’s no surprise, then, that the fashion industry accounts for at least 10 percent of global carbon emissions and 20 percent of all industrial water pollution. Though the industry employs one out of every six people globally, fewer than two percent of them earn a living wage—more than 98 percent of workers are not only underpaid, they also toil in unsafe, unsanitary conditions. But change is underfoot: retailers are shifting their supply models, circular and slow fashion are on the rise, and new technology is making the manufacture of new and recycled fabrics cleaner. Dana Thomas joins the podcast to explain what will be required to fix a broken system. This episode originally aired in 2019.

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