Fast Fashion : An Overhyped Trend
“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying.”
— LUCY SIEGLE
What comes to your mind when you first hear the word ‘fashion'?
You think of trendy, classy and a whole bunch of clothes that you would like to have. Fashion is not a primitive statement within the upper-class anymore like the olden times. The judgement on the basis of clothes and the Royal fashion trends from wearing skins of tiger to wearing traditionally designed and intricate robes, each part of history has its own definition for fashion. Fashion has inevitably evolved through the years.Every day you come across new updates on social media; from a shoe company launching its new collection of trendy shoes to a fashion blogger endorsing a fashion brand with a twist. The fashion industry has not only become more trendy, but also more technologically savvy.
In the world of fast-paced technology, it is considered an advantage but the harsh reality of fast fashion repels the term sustainability and environment-friendly.
What makes it attractive?
The fast fashion companies are booming with huge discounts and offers to launch new lines of collections every week that mix in with the trends from chic to boho. They give people what they like and that attracts them the most.
The main motive of fast fashion is to produce trendy designs with inexpensive styles- commercially influencing consumers into believing it is affordable, and earning huge profits.
The attractions are:
It is a cheaper, speedier and faster method for big brands pulling customers to fulfil their desires, to wear what they love at a pricing that the customer wouldn’t mind.
Big brands produce peak volumes of garments, making the production efficient because of large quantities of prints. This makes the clothes cheaper to purchase.
Not only do these brands put up styles for all genders, they also offer a large variety of clothes to choose from.
Huge sales, coupons, fast and easy shipping methods convince the customers to make large purchases through these brands.
Because of the above mentioned factors, fast fashion is challenging the established clothing label tradition of introducing new collections and lines on a seasonal basis. In fact, it’s not uncommon for fast fashion retailers to introduce new products multiple times in one week to stay on the trend.
Why is fast fashion harmful?
Fast fashion is a lucrative, and exploitable business model with high skilled production of clothing. The collections produced are mainly from elegant fashion weeks where brands and designers showcased their new sets.
However, the disastrous side of fast fashion is concealed within the flashy colours.
Commercial production, fast shipping, 360° marketing has been an imminent part of the growth but the technological aspect has outshined all of these.
Options of online and offline shopping have been something consumers have yearned for. Online apps provide all services from selecting colors to free replacement within a period of time. With free shipping and digital payments, it has been super easy to sit and order anything that suits you and goes along with the trend.
The technological game has proven strong for these companies.
When the customer is presented with so many options, they impulsively buy things they might or might not need.
Over the course of the pandemic, online shopping has become a coping mechanism for many. This has led to higher rates of online shopping and jumping on trends that fashion influencers have started.
The prospect of overbuying makes an individual a fashion slave and thus we overpay without realizing it.
Fast Fashion Materials
Fast fashion may sound appealing to many, however, the high volume produced fits are certainly not of the top quality and tend to not last as long, which ultimately is of no use.
In Bangladesh alone, 22,000 tonnes of toxic waste from fashion industries go straight into waterways every year. This textile waste contains substances like lead, mercury, and arsenic that are extremely harmful to human life.
Fast fashion affects the health of consumers, harmful chemicals such as benzothiazole, which has been linked to several types of cancer and respiratory illnesses, have been found in apparel in the market today.
These poorly made clothes can be dangerous to health.
The piling up of trash and chemicals generated from industries in landfills and lakes affect human life as well as aquatic life. In garment-making industries, the waste is unregulated and ends up being thrown irresponsibly.
It makes its way into oceans and waterways which end marine life and take up to hundreds of years to decompose in these waters.
Human Rights Violation
The health of garment workers is always in jeopardy due to exposure to harmful chemicals.
Unbearably long working hours, terribly low pay (below the working wages) and extremely hazardous working conditions are some of the issues which workers in the garment factories face on a daily basis.
The 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh is one example of how unsafe it is to work in this industry.
As a whole, the fashion industry is becoming a humanitarian concern day by day.
Alternative to fast fashion
Thrifting is going to a store or flea market, where pre-owned items are put on sale and listed for lower prices. Online thrifting stores have become immensely popular and are best suited over fast fashion, all thanks to social media.
Thrifting is a healthier option for the pocket too as you get branded, top quality products at a fraction of the original prices.
Most proceeds from thrift stores are raised for charities.
It can introduce you to new varieties of fashion from long lost trends. You might find your perfect fit!
It is a major step towards sustainable fashion and is environment-friendly.
Purchasing a second-hand item means one less item being made. Even a small scale change can terminate the grave effects of commercial production.
Try to make your friends and family aware of the catastrophic effects of fast fashion and make them knowledgeable about thrift shopping and conscious buying.
It is the time now to switch to conventional methods before it's too late. Fashion with sustainability is a smarter choice and an environmentally-friendly option.
The change is now and it starts with us.
Will you fall prey to fast fashion like thousands of others or will you escape the trap of fast fashion and pursue sustainability?Arham Shah