In recent years, fast fashion has taken the world by storm. Stores have been selling items likeshirts, pants, dresses, and skirts at lower prices than ever before. However, this raises the question of how retailers would be willing to do so. Though they’re offering lower prices, they aren’t making less money than they would if they were to sell more expensive clothing. While all of these inexpensive clothing options might feel easy on your wallet, customers everywhere are paying high prices for fast fashion. Furthermore, fast fashion comes a number of other drawbacks, such as the fact that it is environmentally dangerous. Here’s why you need to rethink fast fashion.
Fast fashion is cheap, poorly constructed, and trendy clothing that takes inspiration from the latest catwalk styles or celebrity culture to create their own garments at high speed to maximize current trends. The term wasfirst coined by the New York Times in the 1990s, who used it to describe Zara’s mission when their first store opened in New York, claiming it would only take 15 days for a garment to go from being a designer brand to being sold on the racks. Trend-driven, it plays on our insecurities of wanting to look good and keep up with the times.
There are manyreasons why fast fashion is bad for both people and the environment. Here are a few examples:
Treating clothing as disposable is unsustainable and is taking a toll on our environment. While there are more regulations on textile manufacturing in the US that make it less destructive, most manufacturing happens overseas where there’s a lot less oversight. For example, fibre production takes a large amount of coal weighing approximately 145 million tons, as well as between 1.5 and 2 trillion gallons of water.
Additionally, the fact that customers consistently throw out their used and unused clothing has created a lot of environmental issues. On average, Canadians get rid of 81 pounds of textile materials annually, throwing their garments away rather than donating or consigning them. Furthermore, most clothing items are made of petroleum-based, inexpensive fibres like acrylic, nylon, and polyester that do not decompose easily and take up a lot of landfill space. Even donating your clothes to charity can have a negative environmental impact, as almost half of these donations go to textile recyclers. This can be incredibly wasteful, as the process requires the use of coal, water, and other materials. Furthermore, it costs charities a considerable amount of money, as they spend a large amount of time sorting through clothes they aren’t able to use and then disposing of them.
One store that has been heavily criticized for its support for “disposable fashion” is H&M. For example, they had a story in the Guardian’s UK edition where they argued that fast fashion isn’t automatically unsustainable. They claimed that luxury and high street brands often use the same suppliers and likened those who work in fash fashion to factory workers who produce luxury goods.
When we decide to buy clothes at cheaper stores like Target Mango, we don’t expect these items to last long even though they’re not made to fall to pieces. We wear it once or twice and then toss it once it has done its job. One of the reasons Canadians get rid of so many clothing items is due to the fact that we don’t want to bother repairing a missing button or a worn-out shoe. If our clothes feel disposable, fast, and cheap, we’re going to treat them that way. Fast-changing trends and low prices have turned clothing into throwaway items in our eyes, enabling us to disregard thinking how long the items we’re buying will last or if we’ll like them when we leave the store. For a lot of people, it’s too much of an inconvenience just to return items they are dissatisfied with back to the store. However, tossing your clothes when you’ve only worn them once can be a total waste of money, and adds up if you do so often.
There are a number of fast-fashion brand collaborations that trick their customers into paying for their highly regarded names. Mass merchandisers such as H&M, Target, TopShop, Zara, and Mango routinely collaborate with big-name fashion designers on collections, enticing customers itching to buy something from the designer brand. The brands would not describe it this way, claiming fashion isn’t about the price or label, but taste and style. However, many customers likely wouldn’t have considered buying these garments if they didn't have the designer's name attached.
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