The High Cost of Cheap Clothing

The High Cost of Cheap Clothing

You can watch the film here

     The True Cost documentary exposes the hideous truth behind the seemingly glamorous fashion industry; from overlooking environmental impacts to disregarding safety measures, cutting corners is not only accepted in the industry, but rather necessary to stay competitive. Between the growing demand for ‘disposable’ clothing to satisfy weekly emerging trends and the shift of production towards developing countries with low labor costs, it’s imperative the consumer opens their eyes to the high cost of their cheap clothing (Jacometti).

     The fashion industry has experienced an unprecedented surge in consumption directly related to the ‘fast fashion’ phenomenon. Clothing should never be seen as a disposable product, yet consumers now expect clothing priced low enough to throw away after a few wears. The United States alone contributes 11 million tons of textile waste per year, and this non-biodegradable waste—consisting both of discarded clothing and roughly 80% of donated clothing—is rejected to landfills and destined to emit potent greenhouse gasses, like methane, for hundreds of years (McCarthy).

     To stay fiscally competitive most clothing companies outsource labor to factories in the Global South, such as Bangladesh, whose factory wages halved over the past decade despite having “…the cheapest garment workers in the world, working the longest hours and living in the most crowded and unsanitary slums” (Crewe). Furthermore, disregarding safety measures has become almost a standard practice among factory owners to cut costs, causing factory disasters like Rana Plaza to become increasingly common and overlooked. The year following Rana Plaza was the industry’s most profitable of all time.

     It’s crucial consumers contribute their dollar vote to brands that place importance on traceability, transparency, and waste prevention. While the hidden cost of our clothes may be distant and easy to overlook now, by the time consumer’s ignorance is obvious it will be irreversible.


Crewe, L. (2008). Ugly Beautiful? Counting the Cost of the Global Fashion Industry. Geography, 93:1, 25-33. Doi: 10.1080/00167487.2008.12094216 
Jacometti, V. (2019). Circular Economy and Waste in the Fashion Industry. Laws, 8(4), 27. doi:10.3390/laws8040027
McCarthy, A. (2018, March 22). Are Our Clothes Doomed for the Landfill? from
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