Disease origin stories, while important, can lead to dangerous narratives. We need to recognise that the hegemony of global supply chains to produce the clothes that are advertised, stocked in retail outlets, bought and worn should not lead to ‘pathologising’ the entrepreneurs and workers who produce them. We need to imagine different futures that push back against demographic nationalism. We need not to criminalise the people who work hard to make clothes as they follow a desire to realise dignified lives. Diseases have not only origin stories and life history narratives but also afterlives.
In the L.A. Jobber Market, it is the potential of failure at every fleeting second of the making of clothing that makes fast fashion within the U.S. possible. In such a volatile global market of clothing where consumer taste is finicky, every single decision has the potential to collapse a line of clothing like a house of cards. All relationships of trust are held with suspicion; they are fragile and attended to, performed and maintained. Bankruptcy is palpable and embodied in the quickly changing nature of store names. It’s no wonder then, that this community of fast fashion manufacturers, garment vendors and traders are all so highly religious. For all the times one fails, left in debt or with nothing, one needs to have something permanent to hold on to – family, salvation, faith, and God.