Fashion

Fash-ism

“Fashion Victims” is an urban action inspired by the recent events in Bangladesh…

Story by Teo J. Babini - teo@citizenbrooklyn.com Photos courtesy of Yolanda Dominguez
Photo © Yolanda Dominguez

Photo © Yolanda Dominguez

Karma has a way of making its presence known whether one believes in it or not. Such was the case for this fashionable young lady… The collective demand of consumerism causes real tangible death. In Buddhism, desire is considered a major cause of suffering for the individual. So, in our case, the desire to consume, the desire to have the latest greatest fashions at the best price got the karmic wheel rolling.

It all began with desire, the desire of our society to purchase the perfect outfit, regardless of full closets, overflowing with “throw away” fashion. This desire created a need or demand, if we want to speak in economic terms. So some designer decided to offer the complimentary supply. Why? To make as much money as possible while pursuing their own capitalistic endeavors. In Italy, one of the fashion capitols of the world, there is a system in place wherein garment production houses bid for jobs, the work going to those that promise the fastest cheapest results. This corrupt practice is reminiscent of American mafia style blue-collar contract work.

Photo © Yolanda Dominguez

Photo © Yolanda Dominguez

The next act in this modern tragedy takes us far from the shiny streets of any high-heeled metropolis, plunging us into a world where wealth distribution is more than a bunch of college students hanging around in parks with picket signs. Bangladesh, a world where human rights land low on the list of priorities, but it is here where dreams are realized. Only here could you pay so little for so much labor and offer not one concession in return, yielding an affordable dress that looks just like the one you saw on the runway, but actually costs so much more. This is where the factory is, the one that won the bid. Manual labor is only a piece of the pie, building maintenance is another cost sewn into the hems of your apparel.

So, you and your wife work grueling hours each day for peanuts only to hop out of the frying pan and into the fire that is poverty. A fire that is all consuming, leaving burns so severe that you pray to whatever god and thank him for your enslavement, because it means that you’ll continue your relative survival another day. Only he’s not listening, because the sound of a loud crack is the last thing you’ll ever hear, embracing your wife for the last time under a ceiling not made of glass, but of thick, impassable concrete. The very ceiling that contained you, is the very one that sets you free… As it collapses on you and all the rest of the poor souls suckered into contributing to a global society that knows not of their existence.

Photo © Yolanda Dominguez

Photo © Yolanda Dominguez

Back to our glamorous gal, as she gets dressed for a day of SoHo shopping in a brand new outfit, the television in the background shows some gruesome images of another third world disaster that claimed uncountable lives in the blink of an eye. She turns off the TV. She doesn’t like watching the news because she has a big heart and everything always seems so depressing. She thinks how lucky she is to live in a country where incidents like these are a thing of the past, the ghosts of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory who haunt the pages of high school history books.

Life is a twist of fate, and, unfortunately for our friend, there are exploited workers and shotty construction jobs done everywhere. Or, at least, that’s what they’ll chalk it up too, but one thing is for sure: On this day, with a limitless sky above her head something came down. Up above on a nearby rooftop a fashion shoot was going on and someone in the crew stepped too close to leftover box of construction supplies, long forgotten, and sent its contents cascading down onto concrete sidewalk.

Photo © Yolanda Dominguez

Photo © Yolanda Dominguez

The thing is karma doesn’t see us as we see ourselves. It doesn’t see the nice, genuine people who give their pocket change to the homeless, help mothers carry strollers up the subway steps and offer our seats to old men on the bus even after we’ve been working all day. No, karma sees us objectively, individuals sharing a planet with one another. Karma seeks to restore balance when it is lost. Karma makes no exceptions for ignorance.

For hours, people passed by the spectacle. Some ignored it, too busy to smell the withering flowers. Others stopped to take iPhone photos for sharing on social media, thinking it too be some kind of advertising stint. Public death is the new flash mob.

Photo © Yolanda Dominguez

Photo © Yolanda Dominguez

“Fashion Victims” is an urban action inspired by the recent events in Bangladesh (the collapse on the 24th of April of various textile workshops which killed 1,127 workers), which means to bring into the light of day the real “fashion victims”: the enslaved workers and child exploitation and the millions harmed by the contamination that the factories produce in the production countries.

Various bloggers appear buried under rubble in one of the commercial streets of Madrid, some extremities with luxurious accessories (bags, shoes, and so on) can be glimpsed and these remind us of the images published of the tragedy in Bangladesh in which arms and legs stuck out from under the remains of the building. This is an appeal for responsible production and consumption, both for people and the planet.

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