Fast fashion is defined as cheap, poor quality, on-trend clothing which samples ideas from celebrity culture and the catwalk, bringing these garments into high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand. The concept of fast fashion involves bringing the newest styles to market as fast as possible, so consumers can buy these at the height of that particular style’s popularity and then discarding the item after a few wears as it is no longer trendy or it has become damaged due to its poor quality. This feeds the rapid pace at which trend cycles change and plays into the idea that ‘outfit repeating’ is bad.
Fast fashion has been the centre of debate for years now, as trends have changed more rapidly and brands purchase excess quantities of clothing to benefit from economies of scale. These brands are aware that they will not sell all of these items, but to be profitable in the fast fashion industry these discounts are necessary. Fast fashion has been a known pollutant, firstly through its contribution to landfill and carbon footprint resulting from shipping product around the world to access cheap labour. It was reported in August that pollution from a fast fashion manufacturing facility has dyed African rivers blue and making them as alkaline as bleach.
While many of these brands have promised to enforce better practices and standards, in Africa their impact has exacerbated pollution and water hoarding. There have been numerous reports of poor sanitation and dangerous and unfair working practices within these factories.
Many fast fashion brands have tried to appear more environmentally conscious by producing recycled or organic ranges, however these clothing items are still produced unethically. This is known as greenwashing, where brands attempt to appear ethically and environmentally responsible while changing very little about their products and practices.
Did you know…
Over $500 billion of value a year is lost due to clothing underutilisation and a lack of recycling
1 in 3 young women consider clothing items worn once or twice old
The fashion industry is responsible for 8% of carbon emissions
Fashion accounts for 20-35% of microplastic flows to the ocean
Sources: The Independent, Good On You, BBC