Hidden cost of fashion production – How our clothes harms the children in Chine?

Hidden cost of fashion production – How our clothes harms the children in Chine?

April 23, 2024, 9:52 p.m.

Hearts' Calling

Hidden cost of fashion production – How our clothes harms the children in Chine?

Nowadays, idea of ethical fashion is widely spread throughout the globe. Great number of consumers are hoping, some even forcing big industries to change their way of clothing production. However, how many of you are actually ready to sacrifice your own comfort and personal needs in order to save someone’s environment?

Fast Fashion and it’s impact

Fast fashion has allowed us to move swiftly throughout many new trends that emerge every season and that is certainly one of the positive effects it has on a social life of many individuals, yet the overproduction that is caused by high demands leads to an environmental degradation and labor exploitation.

For example, much of the cotton produced in the USA and other great countries is exported to China and other countries with low labor costs, where the material is milled, woven into fabrics, cut, and assembled according to the fashion industry’s specifications. China has emerged as the largest exporter of fast fashion, accounting for 30% of world clothes exports, according to the UN Commodity Trade Statistics database. Not only that, but China has a profound implication for the workforce where child labor is widely exploited.

The greatest reason why we have this problem of fast fashion is that economic growth depends on continued marketing of new products and disposal of old ones that are thrown away simply because new norms promote their obsolescence.

Child Labor: An Uncomfortable Reality

Despite all the international regulations, child labor is still a huge problem in the clothing industry. In China, children often work in factories, with opportunities for education being hijacked and endangering their health and mental health. They are exposed to toxic substances, work in unsafe conditions and operate machinery, thus putting themselves in danger every day. The pressure and need to produce a huge amount of clothing prevents the easy elimination of this problem.

The fashion industry’s influence extends beyond physical harm. In China, the promotion of unrealistic beauty standards and the glorification of thinness have led to a disturbing trend: adults trying on children’s clothing to showcase their physique on social media.

Sustainable Solutions: Fashion Forward

Addressing the harm our clothes cause to children in China requires a united effort. Consumers can make a difference by choosing ethical brands, supporting fair trade, and advocating for transparency in the supply chain. Companies must prioritize sustainable practices, ensuring safe working conditions and fair wages. Governments should enforce stricter regulations and penalties for those who exploit child labor.

To address the environmental impacts of fast fashion at its source, and to find a niche in this increasingly competitive market, some manufacturers are aiming to develop “eco-fashions.” The International Standards Organization (ISO) has defined eco-fashions as “identifying the general environmental performance of a product within a product group based on its whole life-cycle in order to contribute to improvements in key environmental measures and to support sustainable consumption patterns.”


The harm that is made on children in China by the fashion industry is a reminder of need for ethical production and consumption. Consumer awareness about the fate of clothing through its life cycle may be the best hope for sustainability in the fashion industry.

Written by Pavle Đurakić for Hearts` Calling

References: • Claudio, L. (2007). Waste couture: environmental impact of the clothing industry. Environ health perspect, 115(9), 449–454. doi: 10.1289/ehp.115-a449 • Pictures: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339625027_An_analysis_of_children's_clothing-related_injuries_cases_reported_by_the_media_in_mainland_of_China_from_2003_to_2017


Written by Pavle


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