Fast Fashion

Fast fashion: a term many are unfamiliar with but it has recently dominated the fashion industry.

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JenWaller

Fast fashion: a term many are unfamiliar with but it has recently dominated the fashion industry. (Creative Commons Image)

Years ago, shopping was a specialty. Trends would come and go with the season, people bought quality clothes that lasted. Buyers cared less about how “trendy” clothing was, and more about the practicality of clothes. Over the years, many parts of everyday life, including clothing, have become way less sustainable. Brands care more about getting clothes out fast and making profit, than they do about providing quality to the public. This idea of brands selling cheaper, trendy, clothes that are released very quickly is called fast fashion. Fast fashion has benefited the companies, however, it has hurt the environment, the workers, customers, and the general public as a whole.

Chloe Oppelt, senior, shared what she knows about fast fashion.

“I think it means clothes that are made and shipped out really fast. I know that they’re usually cheap, and websites like Shein and Romwe use fast fashion. I know it’s not seen as a good thing.”

One key principle of fast fashion is speed.  Brands are racing to release clothes for their consumers. Designers used to spend months designing products. “Seasons” of fashion, or new collections, used to occur by the season, however, most brands now have about 52 micro-seasons, meaning brands are releasing new collections approximately weekly. On paper, it may seem nice to have access to clothes so often. Consumers love it. However, as fast as clothes are bought, they’re thrown away. As opposed to buying clothes that last months or years, the items are usually bought and thrown away after a few uses. Each year, about 11 million tons of clothes are thrown away in the USA alone. This speed of clothes being trashed is very harmful for the environment. The constant cycle of trends changing, buying, and selling clothes so quickly also takes a toll on our psychological well being. People are used to new things coming fast.

Another reason fast fashion is so popular today is because of the price. Clothing is sold for a fraction of the price it has once been, therefore, people can afford to buy clothes of many different styles whenever they want. Clothing is made very cheaply with material that is way lower quality than what it once was.

Fast fashion was made to be very convenient for the buyers, but it has many other consequences. Our environment has been majorly impacted by fast fashion. Millions of tons of clothes are trashed each year, contributing to a major increase of textile waste in landfills. The Production of clothes also has a detrimental effect on the environment. Many toxic dyes are released into our water, which can harm land and marine life if ingested. Benzothiazole has been found in several articles of clothing which has been linked to several respiratory illnesses and types of cancer. Polyester, one of the popular materials used in Fast fashion, is derived from fossil fuels, therefore the use of polyester contributes to global warming. Workers of Fast fashion are also very much overworked and underpaid. There are several examples in Fast fashion history where employees have been killed doing their job. In 2013, The Rana Plaza Manufacturing company collapsed, which killed over 1,000 people. Fast fashion has many more effects than what it seems at first glance.

What are ways we can help it? Shop small, or go thrift shopping, buy used clothing. Leah Wagner, junior, shared what she does to shop conservatively.

I really love to go thrift and just see what I can find at Goodwill.”

— Leah Wagner

“I really love to go thrift and just see what I can find at Goodwill. I really like American Eagle and Aerie because their clothes fit me well and I think they look good. They also have collections of clothing that are made from recycled/sustainably sourced materials, which is a big attraction for me.”

Fast fashion may seem very convenient for us, but behind the scenes, there are many disadvantages that we don’t see. Fast fashion may be inexpensive, efficient, and stylish, but it is also cheaply made, harmful for its employees, and dangerous for the environment.