In an interview with Northeastern University, Journalist Elizabeth Cline discusses her return to school, and her constant battle against fast fashion throughout her career.
When asked why she decided to cover the cost of fast fashion, Cline said, "In the early years of my career I simultaneously became this environmental activist and a fast fashion addict. I just filled my closet up with all these really cheap clothes. It was ironic because I think of myself as a conscious consumer in many other places in my life, but my closet didn’t have the same amount of reflection."
"I’ve had a lot of “aha” moments on this journey, but the first one happened one day when I went into a Kmart, and there was a pair of shoes that I liked that were $7," said Cline when asked if there was a moment that really stood out during her coverage. "I ended up buying every pair in my size, I think it was seven pairs. On the way home on the subway, I was carrying this heaving bag of shoes and they smelled sort of like toxic chemicals, and I started thinking, 'How can a pair of shoes be $7? Who is paying the price for this?'"
When asked why she chose Northeastern in particular, Cline said, "I covered sustainability and labor in the fashion industry and fashion supply chain for a while, and about three or four years ago, I felt like I needed to shake things up in my career. I wanted to move more into the space of change-making, and felt like I really just needed an even deeper understanding of the field that I work in. Northeastern was recommended to me by a good friend of mine, Kathleen Grevers, who works for another nonprofit that works in a sustainable and ethical fashion space."
When asked if the pandemic had influenced her continued education, Cline said, "The behavior of fashion brands towards garment workers during the pandemic really changed my life completely. Virtually every major fashion brand tried to not pay their factories for clothing that workers had already sewn. It was about $40 billion worth of product, and everybody tried to do it. Zara, H&M, Gap, Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, the North Face, Timberland, Supreme. All of them. And for me, it exposed the limitations of trying to make change through writing. I realized I needed to move more towards action."
When asked if she's still interested in fashion, Cline said, "I do love clothing, and I own a lot of clothing. I have a vintage Escada blazer collection. I’m really into 80s and 90s power suits, so I’m loving anything with serious shoulder pads right now. I think there’s this perception that people who work on labor rights in fashion don’t love fashion, but the ethical and sustainable fashion movement are some of the biggest, fiercest fashion supporters. We get into this partially because we love clothes."
Information originally sourced from Northeastern University.