Fashion has been an integral part of human society and history for centuries, allowing people to use clothing as a way to express themselves, their identity, status, cultural, and religious beliefs. From the intricate garments of ancient civilizations to the iconic styles of the 20th century, fashion has always reflected society’s values and aspirations.
However, with the advent of fast fashion in the 21st century, the industry has undergone immense significant transformations.
Fast fashion has revolutionized the way people consume clothing, offering trendy and affordable clothing at a very cheap price. While fast fashion has influenced and changed styles, it also has significant social and environmental consequences, making it a hot topic of discussion in the fashion industry.
What Exactly Is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion is a term used to describe the mass production and distribution of trendy and affordable clothing and accessories made from cheap materials on a larger scale.
It has revolutionized the fashion industry by offering customers the latest styles at a fraction of the cost of designer brands, but at what cost? The fast fashion business model relies on a quick turnover of inventory, encouraging customers to buy more and more clothing and then discard them.
This has led to overconsumption and overproduction, and it has made a detrimental impact on the environment and the lives of the workers and everyone involved in the manufacturing process. Despite these issues, fast fashion is still dominant in the fashion industry, raising questions about sustainability and ethical consumption.
Examples Of Fast Fashion
Here are some examples to get a better understanding of the concept of fast fashion.
So let’s say there’s a new style of dress that made its way into the market. You probably would have seen it on multiple runways in different colors, and then you would have seen celebrities wearing it at award shows or interviews. And young people will do what young people normally do, they will want to wear that exact piece. Because of this high demand, companies, aka fast fashion brands, will begin mass-producing this garment and will make it available to everyone at a very low cost.
Even though, it’s widely known that this trend will not last for a long time because it’s mostly young people who want to have it just for the sake of hopping on the trend. Plus these garments are not meant to last long, as they’re made from cheap and easily accessible materials. And when this trend hits the last train stops and gets out of style, most consumers and these companies are throwing out these items and preparing to get and make the new hot thing. This all contributes to throw-away culture, and it contributes to the pollution of the environment.
This next example is sadly a very tragic one.
This tragic event happened for the main part because of poor working conditions. The workers had to work in poor working conditions to complete the big pile of orders that fast fashion brands ordered. They earn very little money, and after the tragedy occurred fast fashion brands were still unenthusiastic about paying them compensation. Incidents like this one show how capitalism and consumerism are being put ahead of human lives.
Some Examples Of Fast Fashion Brands
Fast fashion brands are companies that manufacture inexpensive clothing at a very fast speed in response to the latest fashion trends.
DISCLAIMER: All of these brands are companies that have been under fire for greenwashing before and have been accused of doing just that. We, however, DON’T have or provide any proof of greenwashing for these companies. Whether these brands are still greenwashing, we don’t have the authority to say.
Here are some examples:
Fashion Nova is a famous fast fashion retailer that gets its fame due to a lot of celebrities and influencers endorsing it.
The company has been accused of doing greenwashing by promoting itself as an eco-friendly company, while continuing to do non-sustainable practices. For example, the company has said that they’re committed to using eco-friendly materials in its clothing and packaging.
Most of their clothes are made from synthetic fibers, such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon.
Nasty Gal is another famous fast fashion brand that makes clothes aimed at young women.
The company has been accused of a lack of transparency about its sustainability efforts. They’re claiming they’re committed to sustainability, but they fail to show any information about their sustainability and ethical practices.
Most of their products are made from synthetic materials.
Missguided is a UK-based fast fashion retailer known for its affordable and trend-driven clothing.
The brand has been accused of greenwashing by claiming to be sustainable, but still implementing non-sustainable practices. For example, they’ve introduced their collection “Mindful Missguided” and claimed that it’s made from sustainable materials and will help reduce their carbon footprint. However, some critics have pointed out that the company still produces an enormous amount of clothing which leads to overproduction, overconsumption, and waste.
The Environmental And Societal Impact Of Fast Fashion
Fast fashion has sadly made an immense impact on both society and the environment. Starting with:
Exploitation Of Workers
The fashion industry heavily relies on labor, and fast fashion companies often exploit the lax laws in countries with lower living standards, where workers are not paid well. These workplaces, commonly known as sweatshops, have appalling working conditions that violate multiple human rights and laws. Workers in these sweatshops are exposed to harmful chemicals and materials during the production process, further raising alarms on the issue.
Due to the constantly changing trends and high demand from customers, these companies are nonstop producing clothes and accessories by the minute, and because of that these companies are using so much energy and fossil fuels, and emitting a lot of carbon and greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
Water And Harming Animals
Fast fashion factories are famous for their excessive water usage and pollution, with cheap and toxic textile dyes being a significant contributor to water pollution. This often results in the contamination of local water sources, causing water shortages and health hazards in affected communities. Fast fashion relies on easily accessible and cheap materials, which are often hazardous to both the environment and wildlife.
Materials like polyester, commonly used in fast fashion, contribute to global warming and shed microplastics that add to the already alarming levels of plastic in the oceans. This can be harmful to marine life that ingests these microplastics, mistaking them for food. Even natural materials like cotton can contribute to pollution, as their production requires significant amounts of land, pesticides, and fertilizers, which can lead to habitat destruction.
In conclusion, the impact that fast fashion has on the planet is significant, and the negative effects can’t be ignored. The industry is responsible for excessive carbon emissions, water pollution, and wastage.
Furthermore, this industry heavily relies on cheap labor in developing countries, where workers often face poor working conditions and labor exploitation.
To stop the negative impacts, we as customers should cut back on our reliance on fast fashion, and invest in sustainable clothing, such as buying second-hand clothing, making our own capsule wardrobes, buying high-quality items that will last longer, repairing and altering our already existing clothes, and supporting brands and designers who are genuinely committed to being sustainable and ethical.
We should also consider donating, reselling, upcycling, repurposing, or recycling the clothes that we don’t use anymore. We should always do our research and read more about the brand we want to shop from, read through the entire list of materials, and double-check every certification to make sure it’s not a marketing ploy.
Governments should also start implementing environmental and labor regulations and laws to protect the workers and the environment.
It’s very important to understand the impact fast fashion has on the environment is not sustainable and that actions need to be taken to address this ongoing issue. By working together we can make a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry.
This concludes today’s article, we hope you enjoyed reading it! If we missed anything please let us know!