Brief introduction to FAST FASHION
According to The True Cost, “Fast fashion is a relatively new phenomenon; one that’s caught us all in an absurd circle of micro trends – around two mini seasons a week in store. Disposable clothes stay in a woman’s closet for an average of just five weeks before being thrown out. The average UK wardrobe contains 152 items (11 items still have tags on, 16 items are only worn once, and 57 items are still left unworn).”
Up until quite recently, I had no idea what Fast Fashion was. I came across it after doing research on what fabrics are best to wear, as I am very interested in my health and wellbeing. It just made sense to me to not only focus on what I eat, or what products I use in my skincare regime or cleaning supplies but also what I wear. Upon starting my research I was sunk into a pandora box with so much information I didn’t even know where to start from.
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast Fashion means that consumers have access to big qualities of low quality, low priced clothing. The customers can purchase heaps of clothes, wear them a few times or never wear them at all and then toss them out and go buy some more. The whole cycle is created by big fashion companies that put out huge amounts of collections per year and make clothes cheaper than ever before in history.
With Fast Fashion also comes FAST USE. The production of low cost products works as long as people keep buying and throwing away garments that didn’t even have the change to be worn out. The average person buys 60% more items of clothing than they did 15 years ago, that clothing is kept only half as long. Not only are people wearing their clothes for way shorter periods of time, but they are almost “forced” into it by the brands that now 52 micro-collections per year instead of the usual 2 seasons. So, it becomes impossible to keep up with the ever changing trends. You will inevitably be out of fashion at some point.
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 to meet consumer demand.
Good on You
Our garments are not only sawn, but they are made out of fabric. Majority of the fast fashion garments use fabrics such as acrylic, polyester, polyamide, nylon which are essentially plastic. Many of these items are only worn few times before ending up in landfill where it will take in between 20-200 years. Meanwhile, while we wash these fabrics they keep releasing micro plastic into the water, which eventually end up in the ocean. In a study at Plymouth University, “they found that acrylic was the worst offender, releasing nearly 730,000 tiny synthetic particles per wash, five times more than polyester-cotton blend fabric, and nearly 1.5 times as many as polyester.”
The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world just after the oil industry. And the environmental damage is increasing as the industry grows. The fast fashion industry consume enormous amounts of water, pollutes the waters as in countries where garments are produced untreated toxic wastewaters from textiles factories are dumped directly into the rivers. Along side there is the problem of greenhouse gases emissions of the fashion industry, soil degradation and rainforest destructions among others.
Human Rights Violation
One of the moments that brought international media into the labour conditions in the industry was in 2013 when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed when 1334 people were killed. This showed the wolrd the true cost of production at such high volumes and low prices. However not much changed after the Rana Plaza incident. In countries such as Bangladesh there are no union trades regulations and the workers’ right are almost non existent. (watch The True Cost movie to have a better understanding of wages & working conditions in factories in south east Asia.)
While watching The True Cost, a factory worker from Bangladesh shared her experience working in a garment factory. At one point she said “These clothes are produced by our blood. I don’t want anyone to wear something produced by our blood.” (paraphrasing). This shook me to my core. I cannot undo the moment I heard that. Every time I walk into a big clothing producer shop I cannot not think about who made these clothes and in what conditions?
The solutions are not straight forward, but the first step that I think we should all take is to keep learning and become aware of the problems and solutions. We cannot take any action if we are not even aware there is a problem to begin with. I am a student of the subject, learning, exploring and figuring out practical solutions that can become a sustainable lifestyle.