80 billion pieces of clothing are consumed globally every year. The US spend an estimated $2.6 billion on Halloween costumes every year: worn for one night only. The volume of water consumed by apparel production each year is currently the equivalent to 32 million Olympic swimming pools. Australian’s are the world’s second largest consumers of fashion. On average, they consume 27kgs of new clothing and textiles every year. One-in-six people work in the global fashion industry.
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.
The Industrial Revolution introduced new technology – like the sewing machine. Clothes became easier, quicker and cheaper to make. Dressmaking shops emerged to cater for the middle classes. Online shopping took off, and Fast Fashion retailers like H&M, Zara and Topshop took over the high street. These brands took the looks and design elements from the top fashion houses and reproduced them quickly and cheaply. With everyone now able to shop for on-trend clothes whenever they wanted, it’s easy to understand how the phenomenon caught on.
Fast fashion focuses on speed and low costs in order to deliver frequent new collections inspired by catwalk looks or celebrity styles. But it is particularly bad for the environment, as pressure to reduce cost and the time it takes to get a product from design to shop floor means that environmental corners are more likely to be cut. Criticisms of fast fashion include its negative environmental impact, water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals and increasing levels of textile waste.
Most of us associate the term ‘fast fashion’ with the big brands like Zara, H&M, Forever21 and Topshop. Sustainable fashion fans have rightly called these big brands out for their poor practices and waste. Almost all new brands that have picked up the same destructive business model and do and say almost nothing about sustainability. Simplest solution is to buy as less as possible, buy classic fashion, use mix, use match techniques, buy accessories rather dresses, use organic and natural fibre, buy handlooms and handmade dresses.
The $2.5 trillion fashion industry is one of the largest users of water globally (pdf), according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), noting that producing one cotton shirt requires 2,700 liters of water—”the amount a person drinks in 2.5 years.” The agency also estimates that one in six people worldwide works in a job related to fashion, an industry whose supply chain has a reputation for unsafe conditions, child labor, and other exploitative practices, especially for girls and women.
Why Avoid Fast Fashion:
- Fast fashion exploits overseas workers.
- Fast fashion contributes to the decline of handlooms and job creation by computerized mass production.
- Fast fashion is environmentally disastrous.
- Fast fashion can wind up costing you more than “real” clothes.
- Fast fashion’s low quality changes how you think about clothes.
- Fast fashion collaborations trick you into paying for the name.
- Fast fashion distorts your sense of value.
What we can do to avoid problem caused by fast fashion :
Buy what you need, buy things that you love, and take care of what you own.
Establish Your Priorities
If you’re passionate about the environment, choose clothing made with organic or recycled fibers. If you care deeply about fair-labor practices, search for locally made items or fair-trade certification.
Know That You’re paying very less but why
Most fast fashion retailers are able to drive down their prices because they produce cheaply in factories in China or Bangladesh–factories that Cline herself went to visit and found that their working conditions and salaries were not necessarily fair.
Know Your Brands
The internet makes it simple to locate brands that have ethical business practices and a style that suits you. Know that manufacturers who use organic cotton and recycled fibers are making more than just a trendy choice. Apparel companies aren’t required to list the chemicals in their fabrics.
Hire a Tailor
Obviously not everyone has the time or inclination to learn to sew. But happily, there are these people called tailors and seamstresses who will actually do it for you.
Recycle, Reuse, Reduce
Alteration and Size change is possible. For one time event or wearing at home, take old dresses from father, mother, siblings and friends, tell them it is to save environment. Reduce your consumption of fast fashion, buy less but good quality classic fashion items.
Buy Second Hand or Vintage
If you can’t afford independent designers, then buying from thrift stores or second hand is a great option.