Have you seen clothes with similar designs appear on the showrooms only weeks after your favorite celebrity is seen flaunting it?
You may have seen a girl at the mall wearing a similar dress to a model walking on the ramp at a fashion show.
These are instances of fast fashion at play.
In case you might be asking yourself, fast fashion is the word used to refer to designs of clothing that rapidly moves from celebrity culture or the catwalk.
The fast-fashion stop button you need to press.
Before industrialization, shopping for clothes was not a hobby and it was occasional.
Enter the modern world, with online shopping and fast trend cycles people are more materialistic than ever, and there is an abundant supply of cheap, cool, trendy clothes to satisfy that.
In 2013, a clothing manufacturing building collapsed in Bangladesh and killed more than 1000 workers, shedding light on the dark side of fast fashion.
People started questioning the actual cost of the $ 5 T-shirt that they use and throw away.
What is fast fashion?
As already stated, fast fashion is the idea of getting the latest trends onto the market as quickly as possible, so people can purchase them while they are still popular.
The whole object of fast fashion is to make people believe that if they want to stay relevant, they have to get hold of the new trends.
Fast fashion is the outcome of a toxic system of pollution by overproduction and consumption.
Why should we stop fast fashion?
Impact on the planet
The capitalistic goal of meeting production demands at a cheap rate will mean that environmental concerns will be neglected.
The use of toxic, cheap textile dye makes the fashion industry the second largest contributor to freshwater pollution after agriculture.
Greenpeace has been urging global textile brands to switch from harmful chemicals and thereby detox the fashion industry.
The production of cheap clothes utilizes polyester, which is a byproduct of fossil fuels, which increases global warming.
Microfibers present in polyester leads to an increase in plastic levels in the ocean.
Cultivating natural fibers such as cotton requires a large amount of water and the use of pesticides, which causes a depletion in water sources and an eternal battle between local communities and companies for resources.
The speed with which the production is carried out leads to land clearing, which results in grave environmental concerns such as loss of biodiversity, reduction in soil fertility.
According to studies, the leather industry, for every 900kg of animal skin, 300 kg of chemical is added.
Impact on the workers
In addition to environmental costs, there are human costs as well.
Garment workers are forced to work in poor working conditions for low wage and their constant exposure to toxic chemicals leads to negatively impacting their mental and physical health.
Impact on animals
Fast fashion negatively impacts animals as well.
Aggressive destruction of natural habitats and the spreading of effluent are major concerns.
Animal welfare organizations heavily criticize the leather and tan industry, where animals are ruthlessly slaughtered.
Impact on the consumer
Consumers are now exposed to a culture of throwing things away because of high supply and quick changes in trends.
Recently designers sued the retailers for stealing their Intellectual property and mass-producing it without permission.
Important fast fashion brands
Most of the retailers we know today are fast fashion brands. Big players like H&M and Zara had relatively humble beginnings in the 1950s.
Some other big names include GAP, Primark, UNIQLO, and Topshop, which are known for producing affordable trendy clothes.
Now, retailers such as Forever 21, Misguided, and Zaful offer an even faster and cheaper alternative.
Is the fashion industry changing to a greener alternative?
With more and more people realizing the hidden costs of these fast fashion brands, retailers are now forced to switch to more ethical and environmentally friendly approaches, some of them even set up in scheme for in-store recycling.
These schemes allow people to drop their used clothing into bins at the store, which will be recycled.
However, studies show that only 0.1% of the clothes collected using these schemes are used for manufacturing new clothes.
Is fast fashion declining?
The fashion revolution week is celebrated in memory of the textile building collapse in Bangladesh, where people openly proclaim that they don’t want their clothes to exploit other humans or the planet.
Retailers are now adopting a circular textile production model, which reduces and reuses raw materials whenever and wherever possible.
Fashion magazines such and vogue and Elle UK published entire issues for sustainable technologies in the textile industry, which a lot of big brands are now taking up.
What can you do to avoid fast fashion?
Vivienne Westwood, a British designer has a wonderful quote and it goes like this:
“Buy less, choose well, and make it last”
The first step to avoiding fast fashion is to buy less. You could do this by differently styling your existing clothes.
For example, you could turn your old jeans into some cool unhemmed shorts, or you cut your baggy jumper into a crop top.
A capsule wardrobe is an option worth considering if you’re looking to switch to a sustainable fashion journey.
The second step is choosing well.
To do this, you could use eco-friendly fabrics.
However, all fabrics have some kind of negative effect on the environment, therefore you should the fabric that is less likely to cause harm to the environment.
This means that you can also choose second-hand shopping or research for environmentally friendly brands and buy them.
The final step is to care well for your clothes and make them last.
Following care instructions and not throwing away the clothes until they are completely worn out and mending and using the clothes again if possible and finally by responsibly recycling them when they can no longer be worn will prove to greatly beneficial to outrun the fast fashion trap of using cheap, reusable clothes.
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