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5 Ways To Love Your Customer

The conventional clothing industry is very large with a value of over one trillion yearly sales. To keep this massive commercial engine running smoothly the industry works hard to ingrain in consumers the idea that we must upgrade our wardrobe regularly to stay up with the times, improve our figures, make us feel better, be envied or admired by others, etc.

And the clothing companies have made it very easy for us to turn over our wardrobes regularly. Heck, when that in vogue shirt is only $5 bucks and that “must have” pair of pants is only $10 bucks, why not, right?

But what we don’t realize is that the true cost of these cheap, trendy fashions have simply been externalized. What do I mean by that? In order to produce cheap styles to keep this whole consumerism tread mill operating smoothly, the clothing industry must find cheap ways to make their clothing.

And they do this by outsourcing production to countries where labor is cheap, labor laws are non-existent and environmental regulations are minimal. For example, let’s say a clothing company goes to a third world country to find a cheap source to produce their clothing line. They ultimately settle on a local manufacturer who meets their need for cheap. They generally don’t ask questions as they don’t want to know how the manufacturer can possibly produce the order so inexpensively. Knowing equals guilt right?

The manufacturer can make the clothing so cheaply because he uses child labor or, pays his staff wages that are barely at subsistence level, offers no health care, child care, insurance benefits, etc. Additionally, he has no costs associated with proper disposal of hazardous chemicals such as dyes, formaldehyde, heavy star wars t shirt junk food metals, etc and textile waste because he just dumps it all untreated into the local environment.

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This is what I mean by externalizing the cost. The clothing company gets their fashionable shirt for $2 which they then sell to you for $5. And as examine the shirt that little voice in your head asks – how the heck can they sell this star wars t shirt junk food for just $5 bucks? They can because where ever that shirt was made, the local water supply, local habitat and local community has taken the brunt of the cost – ie. the cost has been externalized.

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