Updated: Mar 11, 2019
Fast fashion has changed the way we buy clothing. “Fast fashion” is a term used to describe the production in which retailers steal fashion designs, cheaply reproduce those looks, then sell them in order to catch up with the latest trends.
As a consumer, we purchase clothing based on two things: the look and the price. Retailers, such as Fashion Nova, Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe are examples of fast fashion brands. Although an affordable price is a perk to buying these clothing pieces, there comes unethical consequences.
1. Steal designs from independent & high-end designers
Designs are stolen from the catwalk and are rapidly produced into replicas at a more affordable price. On Twitter, Fashion icon and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian expressed being against stealing fashion designs. She wore a vintage 1998 Thierry Mugler gown at the 2019 Hollywood Beauty awards and in less than 24 hours Fashion Nova creates an exact replica called “Winning Beauty Cut Out Gown.”
Kim Kardashian (@kimkardashian) tweets:
2. Profits from exploitation
Forced labor still exists today. According to the International Labour Standards, estimates show that 20.9 million people around the world are still subjected to it. The reason why fast fashion is cheap is because retailers utilize sweatshops around the world. Sweatshops are known to have poor working conditions and underpaying wages.
3. Clothes end up in landfills
Our styles change over time and so does our wardrobes. Many of our clothes lose our interests and end up in garbage bags. Fashion is an endless cycle where we buy clothes, wear them, lose interest, then toss them. Affordable clothing is usually made from poor-quality materials and manufacturing. Overtime and after multiple washes and wear, it loses its original value.
What can we do?
1. Purchase from independent designers
Most indie designers sew the garments themselves, giving them a unique and genuine value you can’t get anywhere else. Support up and coming designers instead of buying knock-offs.
2. Sell/trade your clothes
Some popular apps where you can sell your own clothing include Depop and Poshmark. On these apps you can also trade with fellow sellers. Why not make a profit off of your unwanted clothes? Try not to donate your clothes too often. Most thrift stores take the good quality clothing that you have, but the other ones are sent overseas and most of the time end up in landfills.
3. Quality over quantity
As much as affordable prices are great, the clothing is usually low-quality and, as mentioned before, usually worn a couple of times. Buy less clothing and buy the clothing pieces you know you’re going to wear a lot. The amount of cheap clothing we buy and then toss equates to the expensive, high-quality clothing piece we’ve always wanted. Invest on yourself.
4. Purchase fair trade fashion
Fair trade production is designed to help producers achieve better trading conditions. It advocates improved environmental and working conditions as well as a higher payment to exporters. Some fair trade fashion brands include Patagonia, Ash & Rose, Loomstate and more!
Fast fashion attracts us as consumers because of its affordable price, but it does come with unethical repercussions. What do you think about fast fashion?