Fast Fashion is the rapid production, distribution and sale of cheap clothing. These days, it seems like everything is constantly increasing in price, well. . . Everything except clothes. I’m sure at some point recently, we have all marvelled at the price of a plain t-shirt or have been surprised about how quickly big retailers bring out new lines of clothing. Both of these phenomena are a direct result of the rise of fast fashion. And while cheaper clothing sounds like a great thing there are major concerns about the effects of fast fashion on both people and the planet.
Because some clothing is being produced in such high volumes, it can be done very cheaply. We are seeing the whole process from design to dump, shorten and shorten. The time taken to make products, the consumers' decision to buy, the delivery time and the amount of times the product is worn are all decreasing. This is a scary reality because it means that we are producing more and more clothing which is worn briefly before being discarded, creating an alarming amount of textile waste.
Gone of the days of darning socks and sewing holes in trousers. Young people today aren’t learning to sew, they are learning to throw. And when simply replacing items is becoming so cheap, can we blame them? While it may be convenient, we are producing more clothing waste than ever before. The textile industry is the second worst polluter in the world after the oil industry. Products are being designed to be as cheap as possible with much less focus on quality or longevity. The average person throws out 82 pounds of textile waste every year which equates to 11 million pounds of waste per year from the US alone. And because of the current nature of the cheap fashion industry, these figures are getting worse and worse.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, here are some simple tips on how you can reduce your fashion footprint:
- If you don’t think you will wear an item at least 30 times over its lifetime, don’t buy it.
- Buy quality over quantity. While a well made product will cost more initially, you will save money over time not needing to replace it.
- Consider renting instead of buying if you need it for a special occasion and will only wear it a handful of times. (E.g: A costume for a dress up party).
- Before throwing out clothing consider donating it to a second hand store or homeless shelter.
- If possible try to mend clothing before replacing it.
Try to incorporate some of these tips into your fashion decisions because small choices like these will ultimately make a big impact on the fashion industry.
Fast fashion is ‘fast’ in a number of senses: the rate of production is fast; the customer’s decision to purchase is fast; delivery is fast; and garments are worn fast, usually only a few times before being discarded. It is a model that is entirely unsustainable.
Fast Fashion refers to retailers’ practice of producing cheap clothes as quickly and as frequently as possible. Since the prices on these items are so low, they encourage consumers to buy en masse without thinking too much about their purchases. The result is that retailers are majorly overproducing. Consumers are buying clothes they don’t really want and definitely don’t need just because they’re inexpensive. And all this is causing major clothing waste.
Maybe the biggest problem with Fast Fashion is the culture it creates. The overabundance of inexpensive items means that we start to view clothing as cheap and disposable. We end up buying more often and keeping pieces for shorter amounts of time. And this process leaves us with a lot of clothing waste. Looking at you, orange ruffled crop top. So what actually happens to all these unwanted pieces? Charity Shops are drowning in an oversupply of unwanted clothes. A small number of lucky items are given a second life. Still, the majority end up incinerated (releasing CO2 emissions) in landfills, or shipped abroad; a practice that has its own negative implications.
The other problem is that lots of garments aren’t even given a first life. What happens to all the items that don’t sell? Again, they’re looking at the landfill or the fashion funeral pyre. Since Fast Fashion brands rarely produce sparingly, this sad fate awaits tonnes of items every week.
As a general rule, if you don’t think you’ll wear it 30 times, it’s probably not worth buying. Small choices like this will ultimately make a big impact on the ethos of the Fashion Industry. And remember, when it comes to fashion, just like when it comes to life, it’s better to take things slow.