Immigrant Labor and the Politics of “Fast Fashion” after Rana Plaza
This chapterexamines a group of undocumented immigrant women from Nepal who wear fast fashion to labor at their body service jobs in a New York City nail salon. Contrary to the idea that consuming fast fashion is a leisure activity, this chapter suggests that fast-fashion consumption is a mandated form of uncompensated labor. In the case of these workers, they are explicitly required to dress fashionably for a job that is underpaid, toxic, and rough on clothes. Despite this, workers insist that wearing these clothes holds important affective meanings that exceed their boss’s imperative, described by one as “little freedoms.” An investigation of little freedoms points toward the larger structural ways all fast-fashion workers are shaped by this quintessential form of labor under global capitalism; exemplifies the delimited forms of freedom possible within it; points toward important forms of difference between workers; and offers clues to fast-fashion makers’ other, longed for, and potentially more enabling futures.
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