What is the real cost of a €2 T-shirt?
You've probably already seen the video. It's a brilliantly simple idea - a vending machine in the middle of bustling Alexanderplatz in Berlin selling T-shirts for 2 Euros. It's very seductive. But of course, it was an experiment set up by Fashion Revolution Germany to see if people really want cheap fashion at the cost of their fellow human beings.
Intrigued passers by put their 2 euros into the slot and waited for their T-shirt. Instead, they were shown short video clips of women and children making garments in poor conditions, without a break for the grand reward of 13 cents per hour. You want cheap fashion? That's how it's made. After 20 seconds, the vending machine offered two choices, to buy, or donate the 2 Euros to Fashion Revolution. Out of 150 people who stopped to buy a T-shirt, 90 percent decided against it and preferred to donate their 2 Euros.
We all love a bargain, but nobody wants a guilt trip. Most of us, if confronted with the reality of how cheap clothes get to be so cheap, would prefer to spend a few more euros and know that our clothes where not made at someone else's expense.
The vending machine was the idea of the advertising agency BBDO and Fashion Revolution Germany. The video has been a phenomenal success with over 3 million views. 'The results show, just how important transparency is in the global supply chain,' said Annett Borg, Country Coordinator at Fashion Revolution Germany. Whether the shock of seeing the reality behind fast cheap fashion will translate into people thinking twice about buying throwaway fashion made for a matter of cents - like this charming pink dress currently in Primark for a mere £4. And Primark are still making a profit on that.
This year, with clever videos like this, and a huge social media campaign, the Fashion Revolution Day message had a phenomenal reach, with content being viewed over 14 billion times - and rising. The question still remains: 'Who made my clothes?'. While very few retailers answered the question, they cannot ignore the millions of people whose consciences are pricked and who want to know. Surely the days of the €2 T-shirt are numbered.