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The unglamorous world of Fast Fashion – Tonight on FOUR CORNERS

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The world of fashion has always traded on the desire of shoppers for the latest thing.

Whether it’s a new-season coat or a dress in an on-trend colour, the industry has been underpinned by consumers continuing to buy ever more clothing.

“Today the textile industry is valued at about three trillion dollars. It has grown exponentially. There’s some numbers that say it’s quintupled in volume. It’s absolutely crazy.”  Political economist

With the rise of online shopping, the demand for cheap and readily available clothing has created a new fashion boom.

“Fast fashion is the commerce of very inexpensive clothing…It’s very typical for the fashion forward buyer to never wear an outfit that they purchased. So you will wear something once or twice, or maybe never.”   Political economist

Known as “fast fashion” this affordable but disposable approach to clothing has created billion dollar empires, but there is a cost.

“We cannot lose one hour. Forget one day there…We are calculating hours and minutes here, not days.”  Manufacturer

This investigation reveals the unglamorous, and in some cases illegal practices of the clothing industry.

“They have to subcontract and often they subcontract to second or third-tier factories where working conditions are of a much lower standard than they might be in the first tier manufacturer.”  Work place researcher

From the sweatshops of Britain to the textile factories of India, this program exposes the high cost of fast fashion and who really pays the price.

“It’s marketed as a green product. Is it basically a lie? Yes. … It’s an extremely interesting poison.”  Medical researcher and author

With millions of tonnes of textiles ending up in landfill, some in the fashion industry are challenging customers to change their buying habits.

“If I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me, ‘tell me what I should buy’, I say ‘Nothing!  Nothing! You have way too much stuff already’.”  Political economist 

Fast Fashion, an Arte France production, goes to air on Monday 17th May at 8.30pm on ABC and iview.

It is replayed on Tuesday 18th May at 1.00pm and Wednesday 19th at 11.20pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners. 

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