The term “fast fashion” has gained popularity in recent years, but what does it actually mean? fast mode consists of fairly inexpensive “trendy” clothing items that move extremely quickly in retail stores. Because trends are constantly changing, fast fashion promotes fast shipping and manufacturing times. What consumers don’t see is the ugly underbelly of the fast fashion industry.
Employees are often not paid fairly and subject to dangerous working conditions. Environmental issues are just as serious, with the fashion industry contributing over 20% of industry-related spending. water pollution and 25% of the chemicals used in the world.
Fast fashion consumerism remains both unethical and harmful to the environment, but with our support it has taken on massive proportions. We can reduce this by buying sustainably, wearing clothes we already have, and minimizing impulse purchases.
Many popular retail stores are fast fashion empires. Some of these brands include H&M, FashionNova, Forever21, BooHoo, and SHEIN. These marks all cut as much time as possible between design, production and delivery. However, their products are typically disposable. Poor quality of clothes prompts consumers to throw away clothes after only some wear. Many young adults consider that a piece of clothing worn “once or twice to be old. Young adults – the biggest consumers of fast fashion – are the target audience for these brands.
In 2013, mass production of clothing collapsed warehouse in Dhaka, a large city in Bangladesh. Dubbed the “Rana Plaza incident,” it forced people to question the morality of fast fashion working conditions. The factory’s many structural problems caused the collapse, killing at least 1,132 people and hurting more than 2,500.
Nothing can excuse the negligence displayed by management, which ignored the many concerns expressed by its employees. This is just one of many examples that we have to recognize unethical conditions of fast fashion empires.
An unsustainable economic model
Fast fashion companies follow a volume-based business model. According to this model, products are sold, used and then thrown away. Overproduction plays a key role in the process, and products that are not sold are discarded. Wasted and minimally used clothes end up plaguing landfills. Finished three out of five 2018’s fast fashion clothes ended up in landfills.
Many environmental factors also come into play when factories mass-produce clothing. The fashion industry represents 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. The fast shipping promised by the fast fashion industry also requires more energy than aviation and ground transportation combined.
Become a Conscious Consumer
Becoming a conscious consumer can effectively help us reduce fast fashion on an individual level. A conscious consumer is someone who buys and consumes goods that match their own beliefs and ethics. Find out if a part has been ethically and sustainably produced supports conscious consumption. Quality parts can be more expensive, but the materials used to make them are often of much higher quality. Intentionally buying high-quality, durable clothing significantly reduces disposable fashion.
Shop in person also helps reduce the environmental impact of fast fashion. And most importantly, the same goes for wearing what you already have in your wardrobe. Reducing impulse purchases reduces the amount of clothes that are thrown out of use.
Second-hand shopping is one of my favorite ways to avoid fast fashion while staying on a budget. Local thrift stores and small businesses have a huge variety, you just need to be ready to get to work. Some thrift stores in the SLC area that I like to support include Revive Thrift Shop, Downtown Cheapskate and The Other Side Thrift Store. The added benefit of supporting small businesses doesn’t hurt either.
Find a compromise
Many people appreciate fast fashion because of the lower prices. The ability to purchase many different cheaper items instead of one higher quality item is appealing to those looking to save money. Thrift stores are a great avenue to compromise and meet in the middle. Sometimes, by saving money, you are lucky and find a high quality item. Other times, you find several different, unworn SHEIN shirts. Either way, buying and wearing discarded clothes extends the circle of sustainability.
Fast fashion is a global issue but is not widely recognized partly due to lack of information. More attention has been drawn to the issue in recent years, but it has still not been taken seriously enough. Learning how to lower your fast fashion support as an individual seems small, but it’s an essential part of making changes. By saving, buying locally, and resisting the urge to shop online, we as individuals can help fight the negative local, global, and environmental effects that fast fashion is having on the world.