Yasmine Jaramakani, Lifestyle Editor, The Pawprint
The definition of fast fashion is a design, manufacturing, and marketing method focused on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing. The production replicates trends and low-quality materials (synthetic fabrics) in order to bring inexpensive styles to the public.
There is an ongoing debate about whether or not fast fashion should be allowed/consumed at all. However, it could be argued that no one wins that debate at all.
Initially, fast fashion was created as a way to make the industry more profitable at a faster rate. Standardized garments were made to fit the standard body size. However, over time, the quality of the products decreased drastically. With the companies opting for quantity over quality in order to gain much more profit. The rise of fast fashion can be linked to three main events in history; industrialization, globalization and free trade.
Most people defend fast fashion by saying it is a cheaper option and not everyone can afford alternatives. It is an understandable claim but consumers need to be aware of all the negative impacts this industry presents.
The fashion industry started creating their products locally but after authorities implemented laws for working conditions. Companies decided to ignore these laws and move their manufacturing overseas to the global south. The people working to make these garments have worse living conditions and barely earn enough to eat and maintain themselves. They could even fall victim to poor or even abusive treatments. The workers are at risk for sickness, have lower immune systems, lack hygiene and they’re forced to stand all day.
In our society, we are constantly educated about poverty but the images shown to us are only meant to invoke guilt in order to donate to a multitude of organizations. After a long period of time, individuals get exhausted from being bombarded with these images repetitively. This makes people annoyed when hearing about these issues.
The fast-fashion movement rose in popularity due to the low prices, short/quick manufacturing periods, production of high in demand items and how disposable the garments are. The disposability of the garments is infact a scheme in order to get consumers to come back and buy more. This is called planned obsolescence where the products are made to not last very long. But the synthetic materials make it hard to break down when it is thrown away. In 2019, humans consumed 62 million metric tons of clothing, 57% of landfills are clothing and 20% of water pollution is due to the fashion industry. It is now the 3rd highest polluter in the world.
“Our enormously productive economy.. Demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction in consumption.. We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever accelerating rate.” – Victor Leblow
Within capitalist systems, the elite class has created a cult of envy where the masses buy into aspirations of wealth and status. Corporations prey on that envy, and instill this false idea that the only way to exist in society is to buy their products. This has tricked many of the young generation into buying/overconsuming clothing. In the end no one wins the debate, some people really cannot afford it, but it has so many negative effects.