In the environmentally trying times of today, online fast fashion brands are under major fire for their undeniable contribution to the strain that is being placed onto our planet in modern society.
They are awash with criticism from all angles at all times, but what if they were to do something that might change the way we view them completely? Well, wonder not, as fashion giant Pretty Little Thing has done just that.
This December, Pretty Little Thing launched a #12daysofchristmasgiving initiative, that has seen them generously donate money and garments to a vast array of charities covering a number of issues. They have donated to major charities such as the Stroke Society and Mind, as well as Reuben’s Retreat, a charity for families who have lost a child or have a child living with a life threatening condition. Not necessarily something we might expect from a fashion brand.
One of the twelve days involved handing out ‘winter essentials’ including clothes and sleeping bags as well as food donated by Greggs to the homeless people of Manchester; an action that has been met by polarising opinions.
Many critics have chosen to hone in on the fast fashion narrative that follows these brands around with relentless determination. The question of the living wage, or suggested lack of, is what dominates all conversation around these companies and it is not forgotten even in these circumstances. Many argue that the impossibly cheap prices of Pretty Little Thing are a clear indicator that they can’t feasibly be paying their factory workers a fair wage, causing concern in the comments section of a post that displays huge pink PLT carrier bags being lined up in the streetsof Manchester, ready for distribution. It has also fuelled the line of argument that the garments are not built for durability which is what the homeless need.
Others have questioned the brands need to post about their charitable offerings on a social media platform, suggesting that they have taken action merely as a publicity stunt for brand awareness. They have been criticised for using branded Pretty Little Thing bags as well as for the suggestion that they are acting as heroes by giving out clothes to the homeless.
In spite of many negative comments received on the initiative, for each one there are a handful of grateful and positive ones praising the brand for their role in spreading positivity and genuine joy in the run up to Christmas. Many have commended the company for simply taking a step towards positive change.
I believe that this is an excellent move from a brand that has an incredibly large platform. We may not all agree with this brand from an ethical or environmental perspective, but nor is it helpful to incessantly criticise when they seek to take action on a very far reaching societal issue. Homelessness is more prevalent in the UK than it ever has been before and it can be very difficult to find places of safe refuge, particularly within city centres. In giving out warm clothes and sleeping bags, Pretty Little Thing are doing what they can to pay contribution to this crisis, whilst also reducing waste by giving clothes that may have otherwise gone to landfill.
No matter what our stance on fast fashion brands, we can all agree that the homeless of Manchester would appreciate this more than we could ever understand.
By Neave Meikle