Forever 21 Indian Instagram criticised for making light of fast fashion issues
Forever 21 India has faced criticism for a social media post allegedly making light of the problems of fast fashion.
On April 29, Forever 21’s India Instagram account posted a photo of a clothing label that read "I probably won't wear this dress again because it's already on my Instagram." The brand’s Indian account added the caption “Now, let's be honest here” along with a playful emoji which led many to take the post as a tasteless joke, especially as Forever 21 is a fast-fashion brand.
"We missed the mark by not reviewing the post in question before it was posted by our local franchisee's account,” Forever 21 told the BBC in a statement. “We'd like to apologise for the post and recognise that it was not in good taste and promptly had it removed."
The photo Forever 21 posted was originally created by UK-based activist Elizabeth Illing for her Instagram page Project Stop Shop which aims to show the problems with fast fashion and promote a more sustainable approach. Illing explains on her instagram that the quote is taken from one of the interviews she conducted with fast fashion shoppers about their habits.
The now-deleted post had received many negative comments. One read: “Do the people posting this actually live in India? Aren’t there countless people suffering because of the exploitation of the fashion industry? This is utterly disrespectful.”
Forever 21’s Indian Instagram has around 106,000 followers compared to the main US account which has 1.6 million followers. Forever 21 is also more expensive in India compared to in the US and is seen by many in India as an aspirational brand where it is seen more as a value brand in the US.
Despite Forever 21 India’s Instagram post, India as a whole is arguably making many steps to embrace more sustainable fashion. The government has consistently promoted Khadi and other handloom textiles by making them exempt from the goods and services tax and holding events to promote them.
Many Indian designers are also stressing the importance of sustainability. Designer Ritu Beri has been highly vocal about the need to preserve handloom textiles and both Lotus Makeup India Fashion Week and Lakme Fashion Week now dedicate a day to sustainable fashion at each edition. As India produces a significant amount of the world’s fast fashion, it also feels many of the adverse effects. The Forever 21 incident has added to this discussion.
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