How Is Fast Fashion So Dangerous And Why Does Nobody Seem To Care?
Fast fashions seems as though it is the gift that just keeps giving. But the facade of cheap and fashionable clothes shadows the ruinous effect that this trend is actually instigating.
‘Fast fashion’ has become the newest phenomenon that has us all hooked. You could buy a new pair of shoes nowadays and only spend as much as you would on your McDonald’s order, so why not, right?
The concept of this developing trend seems harmless to us consumers; we pay less but still manage to keep in touch with the latest catwalk styles. Yet the excessive production of this cheaply made clothing offloads all of its expenses in another detrimental way that the public is never really exposed to.
Let me start with the term ‘fast fashion’, as many people have only seen this phrase edge it way in to the news in recent years. It is used to define cheap clothing that is produced rapidly and excessively based on celebrity culture and catwalk styles. The product is then made available to the public very quickly at a reasonable price.
Famous brands such as Zara are now worth around 13 billion dollars due to vertical integration within the company which allow them total control over the manufacturing and distribution process. It usually only takes 14–21 days from inception of a style until the look hits the streets. This means that trends die just as quickly as their born.
Nevertheless, many people are oblivious to the devastating effects of fast fashion. It literally relies on exploitative labour conditions to make the idea cost efficient and it has also resulted in the fashion industry becoming the eighth most polluting in the world.
As Amit Kalra highlights in his recent TED Talk:
“Almost 13 million tonnes of clothing and textile waste end up in landfills every year in the US alone. This averages out to be roughly 200 t-shirts per person ending up in the garbage.”
This proves that there is now an uncontrollable amount of over consumption. The products we invest in are usually of poor quality, yet as most of them are made out of polyester it takes an astronomical amount of fossil fuels to create them. Forbes magazine estimated that around 70 million barrels of oil are used yearly to keep up with fast fashion, and now polyester production far outpaces other materials such as cotton. And to top it all off, polyester isn’t even biodegradable!
This really puts in to perspective how damaging fast fashion is to the environment, and how realistically we, the public, are allowing this to ferociously continue. But are we really to blame?
Nowadays people are addicted to social media like a drug; it is a crucial part of their communication with the world. This makes it easy for companies to use celebrities and their profiles as a marketing tool, and by doing this they are guaranteed to attract their global target audience. We are constantly exposed to market campaigns which encourage an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ mindset.
Brands design their new styles to attempt to appeal to our individuality, yet they always have one thing in the back of their minds: power. Thus fast fashion was born. Fast fashion is literally a product of planned obsolescence. Companies know that we will continue to buy if they continue to design new styles, but with poor quality. They are designed to break. They are designed to go out of fashion. They are designed in such a way that the company will always need to create more, and we will always need to buy more.
The fashion industry is currently thriving off of fast fashion. It is a never ending cycle that continues to critically damage the environment every day. We need to break away from this new destructive norm and be the change we want to see in the world. Because realistically, what is a producer without a consumer?
It is time to look to fashion icons such as Emma Watson and Gwyneth Paltrow for our next steps forward. We need to get behind their movement which promotes sustainable fashion and fair trade clothing.
There are so many things we as individuals can do that would make a significant difference to the impact of fast fashion. Clothes are being disposed at an unprecedented rate, so you can do your part by giving your old things to charity shops or perhaps swapping clothes. There are multiple apps which allow you to sell and swap your clothes such as Depop, Ebay and Vinted. These same apps also allow you to buy second hand clothes which are usually in great condition, some things even being brand new for a cheaper price!
Although these are great ways to break the cycle, it is expected that we are going to want to buy brand new clothes at some point. The best way to do this whilst eliminating fast fashion as an option is to invest in ethical clothing which is made to be sustainable and last longer than a month. And, although it is hard in this day and age, try to realise when you don’t actually need anymore clothes. Buying excessively is a massive part of the problem, and that is definitely something we as consumers have control over.
So, until we can find a way to get through to the companies thriving off of fast fashion, we really can make a huge difference starting in our own wardrobes. And next time really ask yourself, ‘will i even wear this dress again?’