why is fast fashion so harmful?
by liam curaming
Fast Fashion refers to the business model that the fashion industry tends to follow popularized starting the 1970s-80s, which is to replicate trends seen on recent catwalks and high-fashion design, remaking them with low costs and selling them at retail stores when their demand is the highest.
It is popular within the industry because it enables clothes to be much cheaper and more accessible to the general population. With Fast Fashion, anyone can copy or gain inspiration from the latest fashion trends of their favourite celebrities and influencers and gain a sense of satisfaction. Finally, it also enables the fashion brands to churn out massive profit due to the excessive buying-culture it creates with the pressure for consumers to stay on top of all the latest fashion trends.
Unfortunately, the numerous advantages of fast fashion come with an unimaginable cost.
It exploits workers from LEDCs such as Bangladesh, especially women who are extremely desperate for jobs. They would work for hours on end only to receive ridiculously meager wages estimated to only be between 25 to 75 dollars a month! If the local industry is desperate enough to increase the speed at which the most recent designs arrive at the retail stores, they would move their factories back to their home countries. However, in countries such as the UK, many of the workers have complained about the factories violating their human rights from excessive overtime work with little to no breaks. It is heartbreaking to see many people who are being exploited under the name of fast-fashion.
Fast Fashion is also very harmful to the environment. With many desperate to catch up to the newest designs, many clothes become ‘worn’ after only a few uses. This leads to massive amounts of waste. In 2020, it is estimated that 92 million tonnes of waste is produced by the fashion industry annually. What’s worse is that because the clothes are meant to be made very quickly, the quality of production takes a hit, with many brands opting to use synthetic fabrics to cut costs. Often, these fabrics are not only easy to wear down which makes it unsuitable for recycling but also contains plastics that would make it impossible to break down naturally in a short period of time. As inhabitants of Earth, we have a responsibility to take care of the planet which shelters us. Helping the environment would be infinitely better, especially if we consider the future world where our ancestors would have to live.
In conclusion, fast fashion’s advantages are far outweighed by its disadvantages. As consumers, we have the responsibility to stop this excessive buying culture to deter brands from relying on the fast-fashion model. There are many ways one can start becoming more fashion-forward, such as thrifting, donating old clothes to trustworthy charities, and more. It is never too late to start now.