‘Fast fashion’ is a phrase I have heard thrown around a lot recently. In my endeavours to become more environmentally friendly, it is something that has popped up a lot throughout my research. Perhaps somewhat naively, I did not consider that my Zara obsession could actually be having a negative impact on the world around me. After a lot of research (and a lot of reflection on my own spending habits), I thought I would share with you my thoughts on ‘fast fashion’, and where I intend to go from here as a wannabe sustainable fashion lover.
Let’s start, as I did, with the basics.
What is ‘fast fashion’?
Fast fashion is essentially when retailers get clothing from designs to the shops (or online) quickly in order to capitalise on current trends. This means there are constantly new items for the consumer to splash the cash on, usually to only wear a few times before they move on to the next thing.
While fast fashion is not necessarily a new phenomenon, the rise of social media has accelerated itself ascent, with apps such as Instagram becoming marketing tools to promote the latest styles quickly and effectively.
Fast Fashion in the News
It’s safe to say that fast fashion has produced a lot of controversies over reason years. The basic problem comes down to the simple fact that it is an industry that runs on the idea that you can only wear an outfit once before it becomes, pardon the pun, ‘so last season’. Perfect good clothes are being thrown away because they’re just not the ‘in thing’ anymore. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee revealed that today we are buying more than twice as many clothing items as we did 10 years ago.
This is impacting more than our purses! Studies have shown that fast fashion could actually be having a negative impact on the environment. In fact, predictions have been made that if the industry continues at the rate that it is currently growing, it will contribute to over 1/4 of our total impact on climate change by 2050 – not to mention the impact it is having on our oceans. Scary stuff, right?
My thoughts on fast fashion and what I have taken away from my research
After doing my research I asked myself: ‘Why do you shop at Zara or on sites like ASOS and Boohoo?’
Truth is, their clothes are decent and they’re affordable. I don’t believe that fashion should cost the earth, and shops producing fast fashion are usually able to produce clothes for affordable prices.
Next question: ‘But do you need them?’
As much as it pains me to say it, absolutely not. Did I need a new dress for the Christmas party? Nope, I have plenty.
Exhibit A and B… and C. Okay, and D, E and F. I am kind of ashamed to say there were plenty more dresses in my wardrobe I could have chosen from. PLENTY MORE. But you get my point. They have already been on the gram, so heaven forbid I wear them again…
While fast fashion is an affordable option for many, and while I do not believe we should all boycott shops such as Zara, the truth is I should be more thoughtful when it comes to the way I treat fashion. The pressure from different sources to constantly update our wardrobes is not only negatively impacting our mental wellbeing, but also our finances and the environment.
We cannot blame these retailers alone. Fast fashion is as popular as it is due to them capitalising on an underlying cultural approach to the way in which we present ourselves. We should not feel ashamed for wearing the same thing multiple times just because our social media feeds indicate that we should.
While the mentality that you cannot wear the same outfit twice exists, so will the fast fashion industry. Clothing has become less about defining ourselves and more about validation and I am admittedly a sucker for it. The number of times I have tried on something I don’t really like just because it is ‘in fashion’ is ridiculous. Why? Because I saw it on insta.
Resolve to issues of fast fashion, is as much about looking inwards as it is outwards.
My research has made me think about my own shopping habits and the reasons why I have formed them. It has taught me that while I do not have to say goodbye to my favourite fashion brands, I also do not have to constantly refresh their ‘new in’ section to see what I might have missed. I have plenty in my wardrobe, and if not, there are more sustainable and affordable ways I can shop, such as charity shops or clothes swaps.
What are your thoughts on ‘fast fashion’? Let me know down in the comments below.