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The Impact of Fast Fashion

The Impact of Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is a term used to describe a highly profitable and exploitative business model based on replicating catwalk trends and high-fashion designs and mass-producing them at a low cost.

It’s basically the production of cheap, poor quality, and on the most part disposable clothing. The idea is to give you that model-off-duty look, but for much cheaper.

How Fast-fashion came into existence

The Industrial Revolution made it quicker, easier and cheaper to make clothes. By the 1960s and 70s, young people were creating new trends, and clothing became a form of personal expression. In the late 1990s and 2000s, low-cost fashion reached its zenith. Online shopping took off, and brands dedicated to fast fashion such as H&M and Zara began to boom. These took design elements from the top fashion brands and remade them quicker and cheaper. With everyone now able to shop for on-trend clothes whenever they wanted, it’s easy to understand how the phenomenon caught on.

The issue

Clothes are becoming cheaper, leading to poorer quality. The prices continue to drop, while the fashion trends accelerate. It plays into the idea that outfit repeating is a fashion faux pas and that if you want to stay relevant, you have to sport the latest looks as they happen.This creates an incentive for people to buy more clothes to keep up with the latest trends. But the quality issues lead to lesser life of the clothes, creating a lot of waste.

The impact?

The impact of fast fashion on the planet is immense.

  • Fast fashion’s negative impact is mostly due to its use of cheap, toxic dyes—making the fashion industry the second largest polluter of clean water globally.

  • On workers - fast-fashion workers work in dangerous environments, for low wages, and without fundamental human rights

  • On wildlife - Toxic dyes and microfibres released in waterways are ingested by land and marine life alike through the food chain to devastating effect. And when animal products such as leather, fur, and even wool are used in fashion directly, animal welfare is put at risk.

  • On consumers - Fast fashion encourages a “throwaway” culture. It instills low self-esteem, making consumers feel they aren’t “cool” if they don’t keep up with the latest trends.

What can you do?

Be on the lookout for fast-fashion brands. They’re generally characterized with -

  • Thousands of styles, which touch on all the latest trends.

  • Offshore manufacturing

  • A limited quantity of garments. With new stocks arriving every few days, they keep consumers on top of their toes to “stay in trend”

  • Cheap, low-quality materials such as polyester, which causes clothing to degrade after just a few wears and get thrown away.

Other steps you can take -

  • Buy less - recycle old clothes. Turn that old pair of mo jeans into a trendy new ripped pair, an old t-shirt cropped or tie-dyed.

  • Make them last - as much as you don’t like to, pay close attention to the care instructions and follow them to keep your clothes fresh for longer. Mend them if possible, and recycle wisely.

Research Coordinator - Avani Sood

Editor - Vaishnavi Bhojane

Graphic Designer - Angeline Saleh