The term “Fast fashion” refers to clothing designs that are quickly transferred from runways to retail outlets in order to capitalize on trends. Fast fashion affects the environment, working conditions, and animals.
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion is characterized as low-cost, trendy clothing that quickly responds to consumer demand by stealing design ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and putting them on the high street. The goal is to launch the newest trends as fast as possible so that consumers can buy them while they are still extremely popular and then, discard them after a few wears as they’ll be out of style. The idea behind fast fashion lies behind the idea of buying trendy clothes on a budget even though they are low on quality. Examples of fast fashion stores are Zara, H&M Group, UNIQLO, GAP, Forever 21, Topshop, Esprit, Primark, Fashion Nova, and New Look. (Adam Hayes 2021)
How is Fast Fashion Affordable?
Fast fashion is considerably cheap because they frequently use overseas factories with outsourced, and frequently poorly paid labor to keep costs down. According to a Vox columnist from 2020, “More broadly, the blindingly fast pace at which clothes are now produced, worn, and discarded means that they’ve become more disposable, more commodities than keepsakes.” Fast fashion encourages consumers to have a wasteful, “disposable mentality.” Fast fashion clothing can be easily recycled because it is made primarily of synthetic materials, which leads to another environmental issue: a surplus of clothing that clogs landfills and garbage dumps. 1
Fast Fashion Downfalls
Producing cheap clothes on a speed-up level to meet all the trends comes at a cost. The cost of that is polluting the environment, as fast fashion companies use cheap, toxic textile dyes, ranking fast fashion right up there with agriculture as one of the biggest global polluters of clean water. And that is why Greenpeace has been putting pressure on brands to get rid of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains through its campaigns for “detoxing” fashion over the years.2 Additionally, fast fashion has a human cost. This means, that the workers are deprived of basic human rights, work in hazardous conditions, and earn low wages.
In conclusion, child and forced labor, underpaid workers, and toxic chemicals are what make fast fashion possible and affordable. So consuming less, buying clothing from sustainable brands, thrifting, and donating are some of the solutions for fast fashion.