Fast Fashion

Malka Doshi

May 13, 2020

On our communication channels, we have always proclaimed the environmental fallacies of fast fashion. It is slowly but surely becoming a problem for the environment, that if left unchecked, could be ruinous for the health of the planet! But what exactly is fast fashion? Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed.

The keywords here are cheap, trendy and speedy, the perfect trifecta for bad environmental practices. The cheap price point is often achieved by employing sweatshops, unethical labour practices and manufacturing processes that are at complete odds with the environment. The fast fashion industry meets its bottom line by exploiting its workers, and the resources of the planet.

If achieving the cheap price point is the cause of the problem, the trending aspect is the fuel that is accelerating this fire. With the fashion industry dividing its output into 52 micro seasons, more clothes are being produced than ever before. Consumers are being informed to purchase more clothes than ever before, to keep up with the trends. Fast Fashion is the first bastion of mass consumerism, producing more than required, and in turn selling more than required. The fast-fashion average is 5, i.e. every piece of clothing purchased is worn 5 times before it is discarded. These discarded clothes end up in landfills, causing significant environmental degradation. The textile industry has always been a major contributor to water pollution, the advent of fast fashion has increased this manifold.

Completing the triumvirate is speed. As stated earlier, the breakdown of the year into 52 microseasons means that new clothing has to be on shelves every week. To fulfil these demands, new clothing has to be produced at the speed of light, which often employs unethical human and environmental practices. Fast fashion giants H&M and Forever 21 receive new garment shipments every day. Topshop features 400 new styles every week, while Zara releases 20,000 designs annually. This rate is more often than not achieved by a compromise in quality, both in the materials, and the lives of the people producing it.

Fast fashion is a phenomenon that benefits no one, not its worker, who are often subject to sexual and physical violence when they are unable to produce at the high rates required, the consumers, who are shelling out money for products of inferior quality, or the planet, whose resources are being exploited to meet these demands. It only benefits the owners of these brands, whose pockets are lined with more money as they exploit the people and the planet.

People who care about the earth can often rue the lack of power we actually wield. We strive to make greener choices while realizing that without big industries stepping up to move the needle, these changes will amount to nothing. However, with fast fashion, we do hold the power. We can stop consuming these brands, and make better choices