Jake Gyllenhaal and “SNL” Took On the Ethics of Fast Fashion

One part satire, one part physical comedy

"SNL" Fast Fashion sketch
"SNL" skewered fast fashion this week.

Where do the clothes that you buy come from? That’s a question that can have a lot of different answers in 2024; for some, the answer can be found in domestically-produced, high-quality goods. For others, fast fashion is the preferred route, despite some high-profile companies in that category coming under fire for unethical labor practices and clothing that isn’t exactly built to last.

The paradox of fast fashion — that consumers buy it despite being aware of the industry’s flaws — was the subject of a sketch on this week’s SNL. The premise? An ad for a fictional fast fashion company, featuring models played by several cast members and guest host Jake Gyllenhaal, in which the cheerful narrator keeps highlighting aspects of the business that raise more questions than they answer. (“New styles daily! Fresh fits! No prisoners! Normal number of working hours each week!”)

The punchline doesn’t just come from the clear implication that this company is engaged in a host of dodgy practices or that its clothing is prone to falling apart and giving its wearers rashes and nosebleeds — it’s that the absurdly low prices keep people buying it anyway.

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The fact that fast fashion involves unsettling labor practices isn’t breaking news, but it is something that bears repeating. This sketch isn’t exactly subtle — but the blend of satire and physical comedy makes its point all too effectively.

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