Luxury is Dead

Do You Still Trust the Luxe Bubble?

There’s a statement we often repeat: luxury is dead. Though some look at us incredulously, our viewpoint isn’t a mere hyperbole. In fact, the recent Giorgio Armani controversy underscores this assertion. 

What is luxury?

Luxury is about exclusive designs made in limited numbers and not mass-produced items. Since all top brands produce their garments in huge quantities, they stopped making luxury long ago. Also, all high-end brands are so overexposed you can see them everywhere, which collides with the idea of luxury itself. Therefore, luxury is dead.

Fashion industry, luxury and forced labour

In our exploration of the fashion industry’s relationship with forced labour, it became evident that luxury brands are lagging behind in efforts to reduce forced labour. (Read our post: “Behind the seams: fashion industry and forced labour”).

It is appalling to even consider the idea of forced labour reduction, as it implies a tacit acceptance of worker exploitation.

The news of Giorgio Armani Operations being put into receivership due to labour exploitation allegations further deepens this narrative. Shockingly, the accusations reveal the indirect subcontracting of production to Chinese companies that exploit workers with deplorable working conditions and starving wages. Workers in Chinese-run workshops paid 2-3 euros/day, judges say. Probe finds migrant workers eating, and sleeping in factories.

This revelation challenges the conventional perception of luxury, especially when juxtaposed with the exorbitant retail prices of their products. But as we said so many times, luxury and fast fashion are two faces of the same coin, just for different budgets. 

Luxury is about skilled craftsmanship and quality materials, excellence made in limited quantities. But mass-produced garments and accessories with marketing manipulation, have created a fake luxury. Therefore, a bubble for people who need to feel safe behind a brand but have no understanding of quality. Both luxury and fast fashion follow the same pattern.

How luxury lost its way

When fashion businesses went from family-owned companies to big luxury conglomerates, the only luxury available was the one in the segment definition. Involved in overproduction to maximise profit, the figure of craftsmen tended to disappear. But how do brands grow profit? Exploiting workers and the planet, selecting poor quality materials to make products get a touch of class thanks to packaging and imposing locations. So, by selling a dream – illusionary luxe – they generate high margins. 

In short, the transformation of fashion Maisons from family-owned businesses to profit-oriented conglomerates has eroded the essence of luxury, reducing it to a mere label devoid of substance. 

Overproduction, exploitation, and unskilled craftsmanship taint today’s luxury fashion. The disappearance of the artisan in favour of cost-cutting measures and mass production has altered the fashion industry’s foundations. What was once synonymous with exclusivity and elegance has been diluted into a hollow semblance of its former self.

Redefining luxury

As designers, retailers and consumers, we must redefine our notion of luxury. Is it about status symbols and price tags? Or should it embody integrity, authenticity, and ethical practices? Let’s challenge the status quo and demand accountability from brands. True luxury isn’t about the price tag or the logo. It’s a commitment to craftsmanship, adequately paid, skilled hands, high-quality materials and exclusivity. 

No luxury can exist at the cost of human dignity. Let’s vote with our wallets and support brands that uphold these values. Together, we can reshape the narrative of luxury for a more ethical future.

While the fashion industry grapples with its own contradictions in a state of therapeutic obstinacy, we assert that traditional luxury is dead. Ultimately, it becomes clear that principles rather than mere price points and status symbols define true luxury #formodernhumans.

Luxury is Dead Read More »

Greenpeace: Stop Fast Fashion

Take Action and Sign the Petition!

Greenpeace has just launched a new petition urging people to stop fast fashion. The issue is very dear to us,  indeed, our perspective on fashion stands in stark contrast to this. So, we invite you to read and take action.

Notice: The content presented in the post is sourced from Greenpeace investigations and reports.

Fast fashion: a polluting and unsustainable industry

Clothes sold and returned immediately. Accessories designed to last only one season. Destined to break within a few weeks. And soon ending up in landfills or in the Global South. With mass production, low quality, and ridiculously low prices, the fast fashion industry generates enormous amounts of waste and pollution. And behind the false promises of sustainability often lies greenwashing and a devastating environmental and social impact.

Fast fashion in 3 numbers:

  • 25%: the percentage of new clothing unsold and discarded every year
  • 1 second: every second, a truckload of discarded clothing is either burned or thrown into landfills
  • -1%: it’s the amount of clothing that is actually recycled into new garments.

Every year in Europe, 230 million pieces of clothing get destroyed.

Greenpeace: stop fast fashion clothing discarded in Africa
Image credit: Greenpeace

Textile fibres

Over 60% of the textile fibres (acrylic, polyester, nylon) used to produce our clothing are synthetic fibres, and many are derived from hydrocarbon refining, such as gas and oil. Polyester, derived from petroleum, begins to release microplastics after the first few washes, which end up in the oceans and then move up the food chain, also in our food. The fossil fuel industry grows and proliferates thanks to fast fashion as well.

The dark side of the most famous brands

  • Shein: According to 2022 data, many of its garments contain toxic substances, with some exceeding legal limits, particularly phthalates, up to 600% of the legal limit.
    (source: Greenpeace investigation 2022)
  • Nike, Ralph Lauren, Diesel: A 2022 investigation demonstrated that waste from the production of clothing and footwear for these three brands was being burned in brick kilns in Cambodia, exposing the involved workers to toxic fumes.
    (source: Greenpeace/Unearthed investigation)
  • Amazon, Temu, Zalando, Zara, H6M, OVS, Shein, Asos: Clothing returned after purchase on the most famous e-commerce platforms travels up to 10,000 kilometres and often is not resold.
    (source: Greenpeace investigation 2024)

Online returns: clothing travelling up to 10,000 kilometers

Clothing purchased and then returned multiple times. Parcels of clothing travelling for tens of thousands of kilometres between Europe and China, with no cost to the buyer and minimal expenses for the producing company. But with huge environmental impacts. This is what emerged from the Greenpeace Investigative Unit Italy investigation, which, for about two months, in collaboration with the television program Report, tracked the journeys of some garments in the fast-fashion sector purchased and returned through e-commerce platforms. It revealed a schizophrenic logistics chain, extremely long journeys, and the environmental impact in terms of equivalent CO2 emissions.

Sustainability? It’s just greenwashing!

Fast fashion companies promote their supposed sustainability and respect for better working conditions by stating on labels that their clothing items are produced with a lower environmental impact. However, it often amounts to nothing more than greenwashing. Our investigation of 29 brands has revealed the truth, and globally recognized brands such as Benetton Green Bee, Calzedonia Group, Decathlon Ecodesign, H&M Conscious, and Zara Join Life, just to name a few, have received a red mark regarding the credibility of the statements on their labels.

Greenpeace: sign the petition!

In conclusion, fast fashion, the ultra-rapid fashion sold at very very cheap prices, is not harmless. Unfortunately, the low prices are achieved through the exploitation of workers and harm to the environment. Of course, it wouldn’t exist without modern-day slavery. However, there are alternatives to fast fashion for every budget, for instance, vintage, second-hand and slow fashion. Most importantly, it’s a matter of education and awareness, accessible to all. No excuses left!
So, take action now by signing the Greenpeace petition to stop fast fashion and protect our planet! 👉 sign it here!

Greenpeace: Stop Fast Fashion Read More »

Behind the Seams: Fashion Industry & Forced Labour

Understanding the Joint Roles of Brands and Consumers

Let’s delve “behind the seams” to unveil the link between the fashion industry and forced labour. The connection is robust, a topic often discussed yet incredibly overlooked by consumers despite the information.

In a recent post, we exposed the symbiotic relationship between luxury brands and fast fashion, both operating within the capitalistic framework. Today, we peel back another layer, examining recent cases.

Behind the seams of luxury brands

First, we happened to read a BOF post: “Luxury brands lag on efforts to reduce forced labour.” Reduce? But isn’t it appalling that brands discuss reducing forced labour instead of eliminating forced labour? By the way, the graphic in the attachment gathered luxury brands and fast fashion brands. All the most popular ones! (see it here).
Second, these days, the news reported the case of Alviero Martini. The company is under investigation for starving wages.

These two elements confirm our thesis: luxury brands and fast fashion share the same pattern, just for different pockets. But, above all, they highlight how deeply this issue is rooted in the fashion system, revealing it as a consolidated practice to maximise profit.

Also, it is interesting to notice that luxury brands often blame fast fashion while hiding their practices that are no different! Luxury brands exploit people’s work precisely as fast fashion does. Whatever the “made in” label says.

According to “Knowthechain” – a non-profit organisation:
“Today, an estimated 24.9 million people around the world are victims of forced labour, generating $150 billion in illegal profits in the private economy.”

Forced labour & modern-day slavery

Forced labour refers to individuals compelled to work against their will, under threat of punishment or coercion. In other words, individuals suffer exploitation as they are deprived of their freedom, coerced into labour without fair remuneration, and subjected to conditions over which they have no control. Forced labour can take various forms, including human trafficking, debt bondage, and other forms of modern slavery, and it is a violation of fundamental human rights as well as international labour standards.

Although condemned and prohibited by national and international laws, the practice is widespread. What’s worse? People, through their purchases, endorse this despicable system.

The fashion industry has no moral fabric, just as individuals who ignore the issue despite the available information.

Are you willing to shut your eyes when buying a logoed bag?
Did you know there’s an alternative? Small, independent brands offer luxury handbags with the finest materials, quality and skilled craftsmanship, all at just 1/3 the price of a branded bag. But while the logoed ones may be easy to sell, only a niche audience can appreciate true quality.

Your decisions as a consumer can shape an industry that values humanity over profit. Don’t compromise ethics over status.

What happens “behind the seams,” the dark connection between the fashion industry and forced labour, is extensively covered in the media. Read, share, and take action. But do not close your eyes. Ignorance is not an option; it’s time to confront the truth.

Behind the Seams: Fashion Industry & Forced Labour Read More »

May 1st contradictions

Has the fashion industry changed for the better?

May 1st – International Workers’ Day brings up contradictions in the fashion industry. Indeed, we cannot celebrate without considering the hypocrisy that brands, companies that own them, and final customers put in place.

Today’s public holiday aims to honour working people and raise awareness of their rights. But the race to the lowest prices sought by company owners and consumers makes it impossible to imagine healthy production chains. Indeed, wages are so low that many people cannot afford a decent life and not even cover their basic needs.

Ten years after Rana Plaza, the fashion industry hasn’t changed its patterns and workers’ conditions haven’t improved. In fact, we went from fast to ultra-fast fashion. If we purchase a dress for 20 euros, can we expect manufacturers to observe workers’ rights? Do people believe in fairy tales, or is it hypocritical behaviour?

Rana Plaza

On April 24th, 2013, a building collapsed on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, taking away 1,138 garment workers, 80% of whom were women, and injuring more than 2,500. Near the bodies extracted from the rubble, the labels of major Western brands were found: Prada, Versace, Gucci, Moncler, Benetton, Primark, Walmart, Bonmarché, Zara, H&M, Mango and others.


We wrote about Uyghurs’ forced labour here. Now we quote Public Eye, a Switzerland NGO:
“Today’s hippest teen-fashion brand is growing rapidly – and its internet-based recipe for success is top secret. Still, Chinese researchers working on behalf of Public Eye managed to visit some of Shein’s suppliers in Guangzhou, where conditions of production violate numerous state labour laws. Our trip inside the ultra-fast fashion leader also takes us to the European logistics centre in Belgium, where precarious working conditions are also a daily occurrence.”

According to an OECD summit in Paris, this search for lower prices has led some brands to turn to ever less demanding areas. They even maintain orders in countries in crisis, such as Burma, where unionised workers have become prime targets of the military junta behind the recent coup.

Made in “Chitaly”

What happens in Italy is no different. In order to keep their higher profit margins, brands commission productions to Chinese laboratories, asking for the lowest price. So the dream of “Made in Italy” is kept alive, at least for those with no sense of quality. Forget minimum wage!

Prices negotiated downward and overconsumption

To understand what the industry learned after Rana Plaza and the social consciousness developed, we just need to analyse the facts. Low-cost collections rotate faster and faster, and companies force prices downward at the manufacturer’s cost. This acceleration from fast fashion to ultra-fast fashion explains everything.

Marketing and social washing

Social washing is social greenwashing: a manipulative tool in the hands of marketing. In fact, campaigns showing brands being socially responsible multiply. Most of the time, there is no evidence supporting the information. And perhaps what happens, in reality, is quite the opposite.

After the pandemic, working conditions have got worse. So the race for the lowest prices brings up all the contradictions of our economic system on May 1st. How can people expect labourers’ rights honoured while purchasing fast or ultra-fast fashion? And how can a world that needs modern-day slavery talk about workers’ rights?

May 1st contradictions Read More »

Enslaving workers: has anything changed?

It seems clear that our economic system is based on enslaving workers. That’s how it thrives.

Here we quote an excerpt of Li Edelkoort’s talk from the Voices stage – via Business of Fashion. Edelkoort is one of the most respected trend forecasters. This talk is from 2015, definitely not something new. 

So, why it’s worth sharing again? Because nothing has changed over time!

Enslaving workers and cheap deals

Low prices are enslaving workers and destroying cultural value. 
“The manufacturing of clothes has gone through a rapid and sordid restructuring process, which has seen production leave the western world to profit from and exploit low-income countries,” said Edelkoort. “How can a product that needs to be sown, grown, harvested, combed, spun, knitted, cut and stitched, finished, printed, labelled, packaged and transported cost a couple of Euros?” she asked, comparing fashion’s supply chain to slavery.

“On the hunt for cheaper deals, volume companies, but also some luxury brands, have trusted the making of their wages to underpaid workers living in dire conditions,” she continued. “What’s more, these prices imply the clothes are to be thrown away, discarded like a condom before being loved and savoured, teaching young consumers that fashion has no value. We should make legislation to have minimum prices.”

Has anything changed so far? 

No. That’s why it makes sense to touch on this issue again.

No one planned to find solutions. Brands and governments will never do it! A spontaneous act of understanding is not part of their plans. But the pandemic has contributed to exacerbating the situation. Many people lost their job, and the working conditions are even worse now.

Seven years later, we are still just talking. And talking about change when nothing ever changes can be frustrating. We like words, but actions must follow or change won’t happen.

So we signed the “Good clothes fair pay” petition, which demands a living wage for the people who make our clothes. They need 1 million EU citizen signatures. 

Let’s help them!

Enslaving workers: has anything changed? Read More »