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How the Pandemic is Challenging the Fashion Industry: Talking with Christina Moon - Arcelia Martin

ARCELIA MARTIN, HOST: Here in New York, we just wrapped up Fashion Week. It's been a really tough year for the retail industry. So today I've invited Christina Moon, a fashion studies scholar and anthropologist at Parsons School of Design at the New School, as a guide for this morning. So we're almost a year into the pandemic. What challenges have you seen in the fashion industry?

CHRISTINA MOON: Sure, the challenges have to do with inequities. What we've seen is a lot of, of course, retail and store closing, widespread job loss. The New York fashion industry specifically employs over one hundred and eighty thousand workers. Actually, it's still six percent of the of the workforce within the city. But here's the thing you also don't see is how how the local industry is so intimately tied and connected to workers around the world. So I think for me, the enormity of this, of the challenge is seeing how our local industry is reliant upon workers in other places and who, who is the most vulnerable, who is bottoming out in the system and who gets to continue as it as it does all along.

MARTIN: Given your background in sustainability and fashion, what do you think the last year has done in terms of the future of fast fashion?

MOON: Right, big question, I think, for us. Sustainability has always been spoken about in terms of being environmentally friendly and environmentally conscious, but what was always puzzling to me is that this word sustainability never, quite ever included an ethical dimension of social justice within the global supply chain. What it means to hire workers who are getting paid a living wage, who have the right to collective bargaining, who are working in an appropriate working conditions. And we just tend to see that this problem is somewhere else and we don't and we don't see it. So we don't really quite think about it. When we put on our clothing. We just think, wow, amazing. Like I got that on sale. A pair of jeans that was eighteen dollars. It's sitting in the car. I can purchase it. And, you know, in just a few days it's going to be right outside my doorstep. Amazing. It's like magic, you know, without really thinking about the breakdown of what that actually all means.

MARTIN: If you could kind of impart like a lasting men message to consumers, to our listeners, people who buy clothes, what would you want people to know? Kind of like that one sentence where you're like you wish you could take people by the shoulders and shake them? And what would you want to say to them?

MOON: When you're staring at those beautiful images and Instagram and you're about to purchase your clothing, I think you should question. Your ability to have what you want, whenever you want it, in whatever amount and quantity you want it for, whatever price you want it, that to be able to have that kind of privilege and access to something. I think really should be questioned.

MARTIN: Well, Christina, thank you so much for being with us today. I really appreciate you sitting down and talking to us. Thanks. This has been Christina Moon, fashion studies scholar and anthropologist at Parsons School of Design.


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