The Wrath Of Fast Fashion
Are you drooling over those Instagram influencer posts and runway looks of the latest season?
Don’t fret: fast fashion will bring it to you at a fraction of the price, really fast. Cool, right?
Our research says it’s not. The notorious world of fast fashion isn’t as glamorous as you think. Lately, it has been facing backlash for unsustainable and unethical practices around the world. The $3 trillion fashion industry currently accounts for 10% of greenhouse gasses, 98% of exploited workers, and thousands of copyright cases from brands and designers alike.
This article aims at airing fast fashion’s dirty laundry: the truth behind the infamous throwaway culture that has been ripping off designers, exploiting workers, and potentially ruining our planet.
Fueling the Throwaway Culture
Fast fashion produces over 100 billion pieces of garments each year. The pressure to dress uniquely trendy in every new social media post shared is capitalized by ultra-fast fashion gods who concoct dupe looks out of thin air. Out of this, 75% of the supply chain material is destined for landfill even though 95% of it could potentially be recycled. McKinsey & Company further noted that the average garment consumption per person has risen by about 60%, where an outfit is worn 7 to 8 times max before it is discarded. This disposable clothing phenomenon has fueled a throwaway culture that is ruining our planet with heaps of waste, pollution, and overall unsustainability that is hard to ignore.
So how are we getting these trendy clothes at dirt cheap prices while the original designers cost an arm and a leg, anyway? The True Cost explains how out of 75 million factory workers, only 2% of them earn living wages. Workers work in extremely poor conditions more than 16 hours a day for massive garment production and a super-fast supply chain. This sweatshop model of production translates to Rana Plaza instances where workers are forced to work under horrific circumstances and end up committing their lives to the continuous garment flow we sport no more than a few times at most.
Is it really possible to produce new designs every week? It is if you are the robin hood of the fashion industry. Ultra-fast fashion goddess Shein is one such mother of plagiarism, ripping off small designers of their entire life’s worth of work. Other fast fashion brands are increasingly following suit, producing cheap quality dupe clothing on a daily basis.
Regular Clothes vs. Fast Fashion: Compared
Regular brands that cost around $80 to $100 are sold as cheap as $4 by fast fashion brands. One example is that of a small designer Garcia who runs Transformations by Tracy. Shein had copied Garcia’s silk cameo blouse design for a fraction of the price. Having obvious differences in quality, consumers are well aware that such dupe clothes are not going to last. These huge price differences obviously convince buyers to shop more, even when they don’t need it.
If you can save $100 on a dress and buy five or seven for $50, which one would you end up choosing? This impulsive buying is, in turn, backed by the notion that if a certain dress doesn’t work out, we don’t have to lose out on much, anyway.
Similarly, fast fashion brand H&M made a dupe of a Fear of God pants, retailing it for $24.99 while the originals cost $600. Such dupes make buying choices seem quite simple.
Ultimately, such drastic price differences convince consumers to buy more from fast fashion brands than designer ones. However, they do not know that our planet is paying for the money they are saving up on.
The Environmental Cost of Fashion
Fast fashion is having dire consequences for the planet. Accounting for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, it is the second largest polluter in the world after oil. Moreover, doubled production and a 36% decrease in utilization means about 85% of the apparel is ultimately doomed to end up in landfills. The infamous fashion industry also creates 20% industrial water pollution, logs 200 million trees every year, utilizes 93 billion cubic meters of water every year, to mention a few.
What Do We Do?
Now that you know what you are being a part of, it’s time to act wisely. Reduce clothes consumption, buy sustainable wear, recycle, and care for your fabrics so that they last longer.
Now is the time to stop giving in to temptation and impulse buying of fast fashion brands. Let’s be mindful of our choices. What we do today impacts what our future looks like.