Fast Fashion Comes at a Price

Sweat shops, child labor, and no quality standards: Fashion Nova’s workers, along with workers at other “fast fashion” companies, experience such conditions. What exactly is fast fashion? It is inexpensive and fast-made clothing. Sounds great, right? Well, not for the workers. Not all fast fashion companies treat their workers horribly; however, many companies, like Fashion Nova, do. This is the way these companies are able to provide their products at such low prices.

“There were cockroaches. There were rats; the conditions weren’t good,” 56-year-old Mercedes Cortes told The New York Times’ Natalie Kitroeff in 2019. Cortes worked for Fashion Nova sewing clothing.

The issue with fast fashion companies is that consumers do not realize the working conditions of the employees who make the products. Consumers just enjoy the clothes they purchase at a low price. “I love their clothes because they are trendy, delivered fast, and cheap,” said Hiba Nadeem, a freshman.

“What? I never knew about the poor working conditions! The company does not make this well known,” said Tiana Lazri, a freshman who frequently shops Fashion Nova’s website.

However, Erica Meierhans, Fashion Nova’s general counsel, said in a statement to The New York Times in the article entitled “Fashion Nova’s Secret: Underpaid Workers in Los Angeles Factories” in December 2019, “Any suggestion that Fashion Nova is responsible for underpaying anyone working on our brand is categorically false.” Kitroeff also reported that Fashion Nova is apparently now trying to shift factories over to the United States. However, Fashion Nova still does have horrible working conditions in most of its other factories. “The company knows that the more people who find out about this, the more people will stop ordering,” Lazri also told the New York Times.

In September of 2020, three officials from the U.S. Labor Department met with Fashion Nova’s lawyers. Kitroeff reported that the lawyers told tell them that, over the years, they found more than 50 investigations of factories paying less than the federal minimum wage in a Los Angeles Fashion Nova. Now, workers will continue to be underpaid unless they file a lawsuit against Fashion Nova. However, most of the time, workers cannot afford to file a lawsuit. Even with public attorneys, workers still cannot afford to lose their jobs. General Counsel Meierhans made a public statement that she is not responsible for how Fashion Nova handles its payroll. Most likely, it will take a while for these workers to get the pay they deserve.

How can you help? A lot of people have decided to boycott Fashion Nova until the company provides fair working conditions. Some simply say they do not care because they are not the ones working there, and they will continue to shop at such companies because the products are cheap. Whatever you decide to do, think about workers like Mercedes Cortez and what she has had to endure.