The term fast fashion has been thrown around a lot lately and for good reason! It’s an epidemic that appears to only be getting worse. Currently 100 billion pieces of clothing are produced per year worldwide, and that figure is expected to have a 63 percent increase by 2030 (source: Extinction Rebellion)!
Fast Fashion defined
As defined in Marie Claire, fast fashion refers to cheap, trend-driven clothes and accessories that often reference major designers collections or celebrity culture. They’re made in high volumes and at low cost which makes them readily available for a fraction of the price of the original. Some classic examples of fast fashion brands are Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing and Missguided. These are just a few of the leading culprits among many others which are popping up everyday.
What’s the big deal?
But you really like the look of that outfit and would rather turn a blind eye? It’s NOT worth it. Not only is there the issue of us the consumers buying a high amount of these garments that are often disregarded after a couple of wears- there are other serious repercussions. The fashion industry has been reported as the second largest polluter after the oil industry, with fast fashion fueling this through the use of cheap and toxic textiles and damaging practices along the supply and delivery chains (source: Green Match).
According to WWF, it takes 2,700 litres of water to make one cotton T-shirt, which is enough for one person to drink for 900 days and Australian’s alone are disposing of 6,000 kilograms of fashion and textile waste every 10 minutes.
Not to mention the ethical cost of fast fashion- the workers making the clothes and along the supply chain are often reported to be underpaid and in unsafe working conditions.
STOP BUYING IT. In many cases, you can generally tell just by looking at a company’s website, cheap pricing, crazy discount offers, celebrity copy-catting, cheap material used and ‘sameness’ that it’s fast fashion. Do the research and If you’re still not sure, don’t buy it.
First and foremost before buying any new fashion items, seek alternatives (like buying vintage/second hand). Read more about alternatives to buying new here.
If buying new is a necessity, always opt for ethical, sustainable and carefully curated pieces.
What about any fast fashion pieces you already own?
Continue wearing them as much as possible! As stated by the Sustainable Fashion Forum, Fast fashion items are often poorly made with cheap fabric so it’s a given that they'll start to fall apart. When they do, a good rule of thumb is to re-purpose (e.g use for rags), reinvent (make a scrunchie, handbag or another garment out of it) or repair (sew it back together)!
So there you have fast fashion 101! From now on, if you see an item you like the look of, don't jump straight into buying it! Ask yourself first:
1. Do I love it + need it?
2. Can I find it/something similar second hand?
3. Will it serve the purpose I’m wanting it for?
4. Can I think of numerous occasions I’ll wear it?
5. Is it fast fashion OR is it ethical, sustainable and high quality?
6. Does it align with my values?
To stop fast fashion, we have to send a clear message to these companies that a change needs to be made within their system. That message is sent when we stop purchasing from them. And It starts with you. You’ve got this!