Fast fashion refers to inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. In the past, retailers used to launch new styles four times a year to match the traditional seasons, however today it is common for fast fashion retailers to launch new styles every seven days which means pushing out 52 “style seasons” a year. This constant production of new fashion styles, supplemented by never-ending sales has fueled a “fast-fashion” consumer culture that is rooted in impulse and quantity over quality and intention.
Look at your outfit and tell me:
Do you know who made it? Do you know what conditions they were working in? What about the impact its production had on the environment?
WHAT IS WRONG WITH FAST FASHION?
There are many aspects of our global fast fashion industry that are wrong, but really it is the societal acceptance of fast fashion that is the main problem that is making the situation even worse.
Somewhere along the way, we stopped caring about what material our clothes are made from and instead started caring about how much we owned and what new pieces we could add to our closet that was already too full. The fast fashion industry tricked us into believing that more was better, that quality didn’t need to be guaranteed, and that we didn’t really need to know where our clothes came from, how they were made, or what they were made from.
The following are the most issues we should be concerned about when it comes to fast fashion:
1.The low quality and durability of the clothing.
2.The low wages factory workers are paid which explains its low price.
There are roughly 40 million garment workers worldwide, including children, working in poor conditions. The majority of whom make less than $3 a day.
60% of garment workers in India and Bangladesh have experienced harassment, verbal or physical abuse.
80 % of garment workers are women aged 18-35
And this is not good news. It doesn’t have to do with female emancipation and empowerment, but with women being taken advantage of.
In many cases women are responsible with their salary for their entire household – let’s say, around 97 $ per month. Not to mention these women have no access to maternity leave.
3. Lack of originality
Its repetitive styles are based on trends that change at the speed of light and its designs mostly copied from catwalks fashion.
And as we mentioned before, instead of having 4 collections for the natural seasons in a year, fast fashion brands have 52! One for each week of the year!This little trick makes you feel outdated and in the need of new goodies, and you end up buying more stuff. It’s a cycle, you see? For example, Americans buy twice as many items of clothing than they did 20 years ago.
The amount a company wastes in the production of it’s clothes and the waste produced from unsold clothing in stores is overwhelming.
Here are some facts regarding that issue:
A. In the USA 10.5 million tons of clothing is sent to landfill every year. That’s about 30 times as heavy as the empire state building
B. 1 garbage truck of clothes is burned every second
C. Over 100 billion garments are made each year and 40% of the items will be discarded or unworn
D. It takes polyester 100 years to degrade on landfill
E. Shopping sites sources billions of plastic mailing bags and five million cardboard mailing boxes every year to deliver to their customers, which results in a massive carbon emissions.
F. Australians are the world’s second largest consumers of fashion. On average they consume 27kgs of new clothing and textiles a year and the average woman only uses 33% of her wardrobe.
5. It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one t-shirt. That’s how much we usually drink over a 3 year period.
6. Public health hazards
Chemical dyes and other production hazards impact community and textile worker health from air and water quality.
HOW CAN YOU AVOID FAST FASHION?
It can be difficult to avoid fast fashion entirely, but if you are looking to make an effort to minimize your support of fast-fashion, here are a few ways to do that.
Rewear and Reuse What You Already Own
The most sustainable piece of clothing is the one you already own. Whether you purchased from a fast-fashion retailer or not, the damage has already been done, and now it’s your job to minimize the future damage your clothes will potentially create.
Buy Second Hand
We already know that we have a huge waste issue when it comes to our clothes, which is why purchasing second-hand clothing is the next best way that you can fight fast fashion. By keeping second-hand clothes out of landfills you are doing a big part to reduce textile waste and reduce the incentive that fast fashion retailers have to continue pumping out new styles.
Support Sustainable Clothing Brands
Rather than buying more clothes for less, start to become much more intentional with your clothing purchases and opt for quality made sustainable clothes that you will own for many years to come.
Obviously, we don’t want to live in a world without fashion. And to have fashion, we need a fashion industry that is not toxic; neither environmentally toxic nor socially toxic.
The solution is as simple as being aware that you, as a consumer, have more power than anyone else. The more people show interest in how our actions affect the world, the more brands will realize they have to do something to respond.
So, the change starts in our own actions. How we consume, how we picture the world we want to live in, and how we communicate it to others. So, why don’t you start by asking who made your clothes?
By: Hala AlZoubi