The phrase “fast fashion” has become a buzz phrase recently as it is becoming increasingly harder for us to love our clothes and wear them the same way we used to as we are being faced with the harsh insights into the way in which these clothes are being produced in some circumstances. We all love a bargain, but is this at the detriment to the environment? Our guest writer Poppy Jones investigates.
What is Fast Fashion?
The phrase “fast fashion” has become a buzz phrase recently, but it is important to understand what it really means. In order to move past fast fashion and into a more sustainable industry, everyone needs to be on the same page about exactly what we are pushing against.
Fast fashion is essentially the accelerated rate at which trends appear in store, including the approach to design, creation and marketing of the product. Each process is sped up to ensure new trends can be received by consumers as quickly and as cheaply as possible in order to react to high consumer demands.
What’s Wrong with Fast Fashion?
Although all of the great, inexpensive finds might seem easy on your budget, the world is paying a high price for your fast fashion purchases.
Prints, vibrant colours and fabrics are the latest appeal of most fashion garments today, yet so many of these effects are achieved through the use of toxic chemicals. The dyes used to colour such materials is the second largest water polluter globally, not far behind agriculture.
Polyester is the most popular fabric used by fast fashion brands. When these polyester garments are washed in washing machines, tiny microfibres come loose and end up adding to the increasing levels of plastic in our waterways. These microfibres are so small that they easily pass through any water treatment plants and aren’t biodegradable thus, posing a serious threat to aquatic life.
Exploits Overseas Workers
In order to produce clothes so quickly and keep up with a two-week turnover, fast fashion brands subcontract manufacturing overseas to the lowest bidder to countries that have the leanest production costs on earth. Rather than having long term relationships with such countries, fast fashion brands are comfortable with abrupt break ups – so if they want something done faster, the factories have to keep up or lose their contracts.
The Pressures On!
The fast fashion industry reflects the demand for speed in retail trading. Over the past 3 years, the movement of styles from fashion shows to consumers has increased by 21%.
As the demand for sustainability continues to grow, fast fashion brands have started putting ethical practices in place.
PrettyLittleThing has introduced a clothing range made from recycled materials and fabrics. The popular online womenswear retailer will launch 151 products in the new range which will include cycling shorts, joggers, crop tops and skirts.
ASOS have created their own vintage line from special finds and recycled products, as well as sourcing their favourite items from vintage stores around the world.
Businesses are also beginning to renew their packaging methods to come up with more sustainable choices.
Cosmetic brands have begun thinking about ways they can reduce plastic waste pollution. Biodegradable cosmetic glitter is a popular trend amongst the beauty world this year, particularly as it comes into holiday and festival season. Such glitter is made from cellulose which is completely compostable and breaks down naturally after use, so you don’t have to worry about holiday back on the sparkle.
What Can Shoppers Do?
There are always ways that shoppers can choose eco-friendly fabrics, but there are pros and cons to different fibre types. Some garments, which are labelled as being made of natural fibres, are not always more beneficial than synthetic fibres, although this only makes up one part of a complex cycle.
When shipping products, companies emit lots of damaging gases into the air and waste natural resources. If you buy products that were made or harvested locally, you can eliminate this issue which will have a significantly positive impact on the environment.
Whenever possible, try to buy products that are in recycled packaging as this will decrease the demand for the production of harmful packaging manufactures.
In a nutshell, the most that shoppers and brands can do is to buy smarter, care and repair items where necessary and keep using our clothing for longer.