No doubt, you may agree that fast fashion allows people to express themselves, their creativity, and their style as an individual. This in turn, leads people to explore and seek to fit in or go all out with the current and latest trends. The exploration side is not bad in itself but think about what doing it excessively does to the environment.
Okay, I hope you came up with something, but if you didn't it's fine (there are lots of resources here and in our previous articles), but just to give you a glimpse; buying clothes with the trend leads to a filled closet(s) or walk-in wardrobes, and if it is so the clothes becomes too many, which could lead to throwing them out, or more positively; donating them.
But the process they are being produced is quite alarming, as well as the health risks on those producing it, the community and the environment as a whole.
Fast fashion is infamous among other companies for engaging in low wage labour that involves poor working conditions for the people making clothing garments. For example, gender-based violence, sexual abuse, harassment, and forced overtime are all reported in Gap supply chains throughout Asia (Gender Based Violence in the GAP Garment Supply Chain, 2018). Furthermore, fast fashion is detrimental to the environment. This industry contributes to so many environmental pollutions, because of the high demand of products among other reasons.
Based on research, let us take a look at some productions trends changes.
Until the mid 1980s, success in the fashion industry was based on low-cost mass production of standardized styles that did not change frequently due to the design restrictions of the factories, such as Levi's 501 jeans and a man's white shirt, although there were exceptional cases of rapid changing haute couture (Brooks 1979). Consumers during that time were less sensitive toward style and fashion, and preferred basic apparel.
Over two decades, there has been a growing need for trends and fashion for consumers, and this has in turn, led to so many changes.
Once upon a time, before the 1990s to be exact, there were two fashion seasons comprising of Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter ranges which typically resulted in developing a seasonal range in one full year. Fast forward to 2013/2014 and the fashion industry has 52 "micro-seasons" in a year. With new trends coming out every week, the goal of fast fashion is for consumers to buy as many garments as quickly as possible.
Lead exposure has also been linked to higher rates of infertility in women and increased risks of heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. Many scientists agree there is no "safe" level of lead exposure for anyone.
Fast fashion—low-cost clothing collections based on current, high-cost luxury fashion trends—is, by its very nature, a fast-response system that encourages disposability (Fletcher, 2008). A formerly standard turnaround time from catwalk to consumer of six months is now compressed to a matter of mere weeks by such companies as H&M and Zara, with heightened profits to match (Tokatli, 2008). Fast fashion companies thrive on fast cycles: rapid prototyping, small batches combined with large variety, more efficient transportation and delivery, and merchandise that is presented “floor ready” on hangers with price tags already attached (Skov, 2002).
To keep customers coming back, high street retailers routinely source new trends in the field, and purchase on a weekly basis to introduce new items and replenish stock (Tokatli and Kizilgun, 2009). The side effect of such continual and rapid turnover: a new form of seemingly contradictory mass exclusivity (Schrank, 2004).
Moreover, lower manufacturing and labor costs mean lower costs overall, which result in lower prices, which, in turn, equal higher volume. Even companies such as Zara, which manufactured all their goods in Europe once upon a time- resulting in better quality control- now outsource at least 13 percent of their products to China and Turkey. Shipping time from China to Europe may take three weeks, but it only takes five days from Turkey (Tokatli, 2008).
The average American throws away over 68 pounds of textiles per year. We're not talking about clothing being donated to charity shops or sold to consignment stores, that 68 pounds of clothing is going directly into landfills. Because most of our clothing today is made with synthetic, petroleum-based fibers, it will take decades for these garments to decompose.
Now, to all the fashionistas out there, and of course, individuals who love to look great or decent enough for different reasons ( and that could be of self-love or just the fun of it); there is nothing wrong in having a fashion sense or wanting to dress a certain way, but there are certain issues in relation to having clothing in excess.
As opinions go to a substantial extent, fast fashion is a huge issue for both the environment, the consumers and the workers who manufacture these products.
Fast fashion is like fast food. After the sugar rush it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.” —Livia Firth, ethical fashion advocate and founder of sustainable fashion consultancy Eco-Age
So, a lot consequences of fast fashion rapid production have been touched upon, but feel free to look at the references that provide more details on this, if you want to learn more!
In fact, you could watch some very resourceful videos online (or we could make one and put in more fun "peer reviewed articles" because, why not!). But then, think about this: we live in a society (literally the world, but in different degrees), where speed is almost always expected.
For example, not replying to a text or an email within a certain time could feel like the end of the world to some individuals, or working to meet a deadline. In like manner, consumers expect the rapid production of fashion or "fast" fashion, because consumers may want to keep up with the trends; but this causes more damage and pollution!
Fast fashion is a concept that will continue to affect the fashion apparel industry over the next decade(s) and, this will have a direct effect on the way consumers purchase and react to trends.
In conclusion, fast fashion is a way for buyers to get inexpensive, trendy clothing whenever they feel the urge to shop. However, this method of producing and buying clothing is clearly unsustainable, and there are many costs involved outside of the obvious monetary costs incurred.
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