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A simple cotton T-shirt doesn’t seem quite so simple when you try to trace the vast global process involved in making it.
The extraordinary success of fast fashion giants like H&M, Zana and Forever 21 lies squarely in the ability to produce a massive amount of clothing – billions of garments a year – in the cheapest, quickest way possible. It seems pretty counterintuitive that the least expensive way to make a shirt is to buy cotton grown in Texas, mill and dye it in China, manufacture it in Bangladesh, and then ship it half a world away to an H&M or Gap store in San Francisco. But when you factor in the dramatically lower labor and material costs offered by suppliers in developing countries, this kind of global supply chain model begins to make more sense. Continue reading