Rows of shopping paper bags put up upside down in the middle of a busy street in a way that they resemble gravestones. Unfortunately, that’s not any silly Halloween action. On the contrary – the ”RIPMARK” bags, each with a cross printed on them in a familiar blue font, symbolize actual deaths of innocent people. The happening, organized by intervention artists Rocco and his Brothers in a collaboration with the street artist Hera from Herakut, is a bold gesture of protest against fast fashion.
To put it lightly, many of the recent architectural developments in Berlin have not been met with too much enthusiasm from the city’s inhabitants. Today marks the official opening of the East Side Mall – the huge shopping center that visibly contradicts the inherent ”poor but sexy” charm of Warschauer Straße. Another building we are not excited about is the brand new Zoom Berlin, the new office and retail space at Zoologischer Garten. One particular shop that takes up plenty of that area is Primark.
Zoom is already the third location of this clothing retailer in Berlin. Known for its affordable prices, Primark is just an example of many similar retailers which can easily attract people who want to get plenty of stuff for little money. Yet we can’t pretend to be blind to the fact that there is a hidden cost to this general principle of fast fashion – a cost relating to the production process that we should at least be aware of. As said in the video, ”The minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is now about $68 dollars per month.”
The art collective Rocco and his brothers are famous for thought-provoking interventions and we have featured some of them before, like the hidden bedroom in the subway tunnel staircase or the surveillance intervention piece inside a subway train.
In the impactful video, scenes from a shopping spree are intertwined with images of the clothing industry in Bangladesh, notably information about the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse where over 1,100 people died. A veiled woman arrives at the scene of the happening dressed in black, pushing what looks like a tiny coffin. She lights up candles on the paper bag cemetery and carries blue bouquets with a recognizable price tag attached to them.
Fast fashion, in general, is synonymous with dubious quality. More importantly, buying such garments perpetuates the horrors of workers in the clothing industry. Next time you feel like your wardrobe’s empty, you can consider checking out one of these Berlin slow fashion labels.