The Devil Wears Prada
Copyright 2022 by Kelly Choy
Photo by Esteban Chinchilla at Unsplash.
have simply adored
fashion ever since I was a toddler. I remember tirelessly switching
out the clothes of my Barbie dolls to create new clothing
combinations and sketching out outfits I had envisioned at the corner
of my workbooks. I picked up sewing as a hobby when I was seven and
could often be found crafting miniature outfits for my dolls out of
I grew older, I
began to experiment on myself instead of on my dolls. My parents
described me as eccentric due to my inability to find a fashion style
I really resonated with, and I embraced my quirkiness despite their
constant teasing. I could be dressed femininely one day and gothic in
the next, and I oscillated between dressing conservatively and
flaunting my skin. I loved to mix and match pieces, and I knew that
fashion was my passion.
pursued a career
in the fashion industry as soon as I graduated from university. I
decided to apply for a position at my favorite global fashion chain
brand, and surprisingly, I was accepted as a fashion consultant! I
would get to work with designers and dress store mannequins—it
seemed like a dream.
I had asked my new manager when we arrived at the factory. The
factory was a large, unassuming gray building that could almost be
described as an enormous slab of concrete.
she replied with a small chuckle, “what were you expecting?
laughed at her
joke but could not shrug off the funny feeling in my stomach as I
followed her into the building.
fantasies were shattered as soon as I stepped into the factory. I
expected its interior to resemble the ones depicted on
television—shiny walls with bustling employees who looked ready
to walk down a runway—but the building I had just stepped into
looked like it belonged in an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Hotel
Hell. Paint was peeling off the walls, the premises reeked of
foul odor of chemicals, and countless pieces of garments were strewn
on the ground. I expected the factory to be decent, at least, but the
scene in front of me looked like something straight out of my
even further when I was given a tour of the factory. Heaps of excess
fabric from completed garments were simply being discarded into
landfills. What a waste of good resources! Fumes from the chemicals
used to soften or dye garments were being excreted out of the factory
through dozens of pipes connected to the machineries. The black fog
being spewed out of the pipes could rival that feom a volcano! The
workers did not seem to care, but their listless and unmotivated
postures spoke for themselves.
a few more
twists and turns, my manager ushered me into a room cramped with
short workers. Why did they place all these short workers in
room? I had thought. The realization hit me like a truck. The
workers were all children. Approximately five dozen children had been
cramped into the small windowless room. They had dark bags under
their eyes, and their hands had calluses from all the stitching and
my manager chirped as she quickly stirred me away from the horrifying
children here?” I asked in an effort to be inquisitive without
related to the workers here. Don’t worry, we don’t
nodded, but I knew
that what she said was a lie. Anyone could clearly see from the state
of those children that they were not being treated properly. They
were obviously malnourished and mistreated. None of them looked like
they were enjoying what they were doing, and the room reeked of sweat
and misery. Were these children even getting paid? How did
get roped into working at a garment factory in the first place?
wanted to quit my
job right then and there, but my conscience refused to let me live in
peace without helping the children. I decided to brave it out and
observe the situation I was in before making any rash decisions. I
soon noticed that my co-workers seemed high-strung and wary around
me. Did my manager tell them that I had seen the state the children
were in? Were they nervous that I was going to report them to the
I did want to
bring light to the illegal happenings in the factory, I knew that the
blame would immediately fall on me if the authorities are tipped off.
Ultimately, I decided to keep my head down for a bit, bide my time,
and earn their trust.
a few weeks,
when everyone seemed to finally relax around me, I officially put my
plan into action. I had decided to document all the illegal
activities in the factory and expose everything on social media—not
only did I want to expose the factory, but I also wanted to raise
awareness that such work environments still exist in this day and
age. I secretly filmed their careless wastage of the excess garments,
the pipes belching out toxic fumes into the atmosphere, the children
being forced to work endlessly in the factory, and the work
environment in the factory. I discreetly documented all of these for
about a week until I believed that I had sufficient evidence to
incriminate the company.
to an anonymous TikTok account, where my posts all blew up and I
received tons of support from the public. The effect was immediate,
and within the next day, the factory was suddenly raided by the
authorities and the accusations in my post were confirmed to be true.
The excess materials in the dump site were disposed of properly, the
pipes and machinery were shut down to prevent the toxic fumes from
further polluting the atmosphere, and the children were sent off for
retired from my
job along with hundreds of employees from other companies who had
been working in such devastating conditions. However, instead of
finding work in another industry, I decided to advocate for ethical
fashion and human rights. I offered my services to the police and now
work as an undercover agent specializing in infiltrating unsafe
dusted my Prada
blazer as I take my new manager’s hand.
hired! I’m sure you’ll do great things for this
Choy is currently a junior taking up BFA Creative Writing at the Ateneo
de Manila University. During her spare time she enjoys reading
novels and writing about her daydreams.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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