TRASH Rants: The Problem with Fashion, Tax, and the Government, and why Sustainable Fashion Costs More.
Ok, so before we get into it, you probably already know that we started Trash Planet with the ambition to:
1) Finally disrupt and rebel against an industry that doesn't give care and solely panders to "big" names.
2) Prove that sustainable fashion doesn't have to cost the earth (although it's more expensive - it's higher quality and more of an investment)
But then as time goes on you run into a thing called...
And now? It's all I ever hear.
It's all I ever think about.
At a meeting? Check. In the shower? I hear the distant voice of Rishi Sunak promising there will be "no tax rise horror show", and that we'll make it through the pandemic and financial crisis by going to the pub.
And you know what? I hate it.
If I WANTED to think about tax, then maybe I'd have become an accountant.
But alas, the bureaucratic country (and yes, sure, some parts of the world) that we love so much is run by scruffy haired incompetent Eton kids that couldn't organise getting sloshed in a brewery. Brexit f*ck-ups. Telling the "youth" to eat out to help out and then slamming them? Ok, so everyone that did that was sub-25. Welp, that's surprising!
As a small business owner, we - and you - if you ever do it (g'wan you absolute NUTTER!) need to know the ins and outs - especially if you're operating abroad. Or... you'll get smoked. Thrown in the bin - just to be shipped off to another country to become their problem as you rot away, left in a landfill to decompose over the next 7,000 years or so with all that plastic that you've accidentally eaten.
Now, I don't really write frank blogs on here. Probably for good reason. But I'm bored of being polite about it and acting like everything is going to be okay. And this is where my problem starts - quite frankly, it's seriously frustrating when a company that makes fast fashion/unethical fashion, etc. that plagues the planet and profits off of people's misery gets charged the same amount of tax that a sustainable, ethical company does. WHHHHHHAT?!
I hear you - why should you care?
Well, it goes one way or the other:
1) You get your products for 10% less, or whatever the tax would be reduced by.
2) The company that you support keeps a higher margin and is able to re-invest into stuff that's actually important and not HS2 or Richard Branson's next crackpot idea.
And whilst we're at it, we should surely increase the tax on unsustainable products that are polluting the planet, destroying habitats and exploiting people... shouldn't we?
And then as a result of this, companies would begin to opt for more sustainable practices, materials, and products because the unsustainable options would get more and more expensive.
Fast fashion and drinks in plastic bottles wouldn't be so competitive anymore.
The problem is that we've been brainwashed with marketing by the most horrific companies - Primark, SHEIN, whatever - to feel like we always need more and that a t-shirt should cost £10 and a pair of shoes should cost £40 - whatever, you get the idea.
I personally go into a store and recoil in horror at a pint of beer that costs £3. I'll seriously debate buying a crate of 20 for £12.
But I'll walk into a pub and pay £5 down the road.
It's perspective. It's stupid, isn't it?
Would Coke still be popping plastic bottles out of every single crevice they have if they were charged more on the purchase of the raw material because of it?
Why aren't alternatives being SUPPORTED? There's been "plastic" bags made out of algae for years now but we're still using those crap plastic ones at the mighty cost of 5p!
Would it actually ever be possible to become a millionaire, let alone a billionaire, if you didn't exploit someone else?
So that brings me to this point on fashion...
1. HOW does a fast fashion company even survive (let ALONE make their owners billionaires?! Hello, boohoo???) WHAT?! HOW?
I'd use that £1 t-shirt they made as an example because we aaaalllllll know they made that but let's scrap it. Let's go for one that's a £5!
Alright... so £5 - 20% tax = £4.
Then there's the cost of processing the card transactions - let's say it's 2.2% + 20p, so let's call it 30p.
That leaves £3.70.
Then we'll say the t-shirt is made in India. India's minimum wage is 176 Indian rupees ($3) for an eight-hour work-day, but local authorities can set their own lower rate and at least six states do so.
So that's £2.33 an hour. Madness.
We'll estimate that the worker can make one t-shirt in 30 minutes. So... that's £1.16 for a t-shirt to be made on minimum wage, excluding materials.
Which leaves £2.54
Then there's the material cost, we'll guess it's 50p.
Then there's the shipping cost, we'll call it £1.00 for a large letter to be posted domestically.
Makes them billionaires? At someone else's expense? No way! At everyone's expense.
You know how many of those crappy £1.54 tee's they'd have to make to become a billionaire? Without spending anything? On anything else? Not even their golden toilet roll?
64,935,065 freaking t-shirts.
64 MILLION NINE HUNDRED AND THIRTY thousand and SIXTY FIVE T-SHIRTS!
A SINGLE t-shirt requires 2,720 LITRES of water. Just to make ONE. One cotton t-shirt. That's enough water for you to drink and live on for the next THREE YEARS!
For the sake of all of our brains, I'm not going to calculate how much water would be required to make 64,930,065 t-shirts. I think we'd end the world.
BUT... that sweet figure is ALSO how much the government would make from their £1 tax collected from YOU for doing sweet, sweet F.A apart from pointing the finger and throwing the country into another national embarrassment.
This is so unsustainable it actually gets kind of depressing. AND It actually gets worse. There's the BIG PROBLEM with "global" influencers (I won't name them, but they're massive by the way) running their own sustainable brands or vegan events but KNOWINGLY PUSHING sh*tty fast fashion companies on the side to make a nice little profit or charging £500 FOR A PLASTIC SNEAKER that does NOTHING for the environment, whilst they get praised by every news outlet for tickling their wallets.
And then what pops around the corner..
Peeking it's stupid ugly moppy head...
Whispering a little...
that the government blankets every company with, which means that it's IMPOSSIBLE to make a sustainable shoe below £100 unless it's a flip flop or espadrille!
I'm going to be honest about how much we spend on our shoes because I think we should be transparent about it (plus we're going to get hammered by the 20% tax as soon as we reach a certain threshold - although I'm suuuure we should probably already be doing it)
Every Franco sneaker costs £55.64 to make + 23% VAT - it's actually IVA, but that's Portuguese.
That's £68.43. A big difference in comparison to a standard fashion brand that would retail their shoes at roughly that price. In fact, we pay roughly 3x what VEJA pay for their sneakers to be made in Brazil.
We have to understand that sustainable fashion can never be "cheap", but not because sustainable brands are trying to make a quick buck. It's because if fashion is cheap - someone, somewhere else is paying for it. The person that stitched your t-shirt. The person that harvested the cotton.
It's a human right. People should get a fair wage for their work. Really, big corps should be paying the most - but that's how they get so big, right?
On top of our manufacturing cost there is the:
Average shipping logistics, which is roughly £3.
Shopify fee per sale - call it £5.
Average shipping cost, which is £12.
Then there's marketing, advertising (basically paying Instagram to not shadowban you for trying to grow organically, which is roughly £10 per shoe).
So that's £30.
Add it up and it's £98.43 per sneaker prior to other expenses not involved...
Storage costs, rent, photo shoots, business loan repayments, tree planting... because we think the planet's quite frankly in the worst condition ever (and, by the way, one or two trees does NOTHING - don't be fooled by greenwash marketing - the average temperature in England has increased by over 1 degree Celsius since 1950. One tree doesn't offset the production of a sneaker. Especially not a mass produced one...) exchange costs/return costs etc.
Then there's that WHOPPING 20% VAT on top, which, by the way, you're meant to pay for as a customer. That would mean we'd have to charge £180 for our Franco sneakers or somehow absorb that cost.
But we want to keep them as accessible as possible.
It just makes me feel sad.
With that all said and done... f*ck you fashion.
We're coming for you.
Is coming for you.
What are your thoughts on fast fashion? Sustainable fashion? The taxes?
Let us know down below in the comments!