Once again, Last Week Tonight Host John Oliver is shining a light on the things we seem to have a very singular belief about (the IRS owes him one for that). This time, it's fast fashion from stores such as Gap and H&M. Or, as he skewers, "personality you can buy."
During Sunday night's episode, Oliver highlighted the fact that the average American buys roughly 64 items of clothing per year — simply because we can. In one example, he called attention to the fact that H&M selling a women's dress for fewer than five dollars is ridiculous by correlating the price with equally ridiculous illustrations: "You could take a five dollar bill, Scotch-tape it to your genitals, and you'd be wearing a more expensive piece of clothing," denounces Oliver. "This dress is only seven cents more than a DVD of The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past — inexpensive DVD raves Variety.”
The multi-level, multi-room, everything-to-everyone colossuses of a Banana Republic, Express, or Zara are the reason you're often able to look stylish without sacrificing half of your paycheck for a pair of designer jeans, because "trendy clothing is cheaper than ever, and cheap clothing are trendier than ever," which is absolutely great for the consumer, but which forces brands to sell in massive volume to turn a profit and remain competitive.
Oliver's reprimand of the corporations stems from the fact that the cheap clothing requires cheap labor. He challenges the want for style with the need for fair labor by detailing how most large brands are utilizing child labor and sweatshops to manufacture their goods — that includes that plaid button down shirt he promises you don't need since you probably already have enough of those to wear a different variation every day of the week until you die.
Maybe most importantly, he explains that Gap responded when reached for comment by explaining that they've made a concerted effort to improve their policies, and have tried as hard as they can to fix these issues. "That means a company trying as hard as it can has been not infrequently connected to labor violations in multiple countries over two decades," Oliver points out. "The only situation in which Gap could claim to be unambiguously helpful to people is when someone shits their pants directly outside one of their stores."
Then, in an attempt to emphasize the cliché that "there's no free lunch" to the CEOs of the multi-billion dollar corporations under fire, who often act surprised by the dangerous conditions their clothes are being made under, Oliver offered up a cheap buffet of sushi, dumplings, and rotisserie chickens, then he promised — to the best of his knowledge — nobody had "spit on the food or rubbed their balls on it."
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