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What is Fast Fashion?

Do you ever wonder why you see brand new styles every time you walk past the window of an H&M? That’s fast fashion. Fashion brands used to release four lines per year, bringing you the relevant looks for each change of season. Now, to keep up with constantly fluctuating fads and trends, they can come out no less than 52 times. Retailers churn out new designs every week because, quite simply, more clothing lines mean more profit. But faster cheaper production has costs that often go unseen… 

What is the impact on fashion? 

Fast Fashion refers to retailers’ practice of producing cheap clothes as quickly and as frequently as possible. Since the prices on these items are so low, they encourage consumers to buy en-masse without thinking too much about their purchases. The result is that retailers are majorly overproducing. Consumers are buying clothes they don’t really want and definitely don’t need just because they’re inexpensive. And all this is causing major clothing waste. The faster some retailers produce clothing lines, the faster other retailers are doing so in order to keep up. This design pressure means that they’re less concerned about crafting beautiful, timeless designs and more concerned with just creating new ones.  

What is the human impact? 

Fast Fashion production wouldn’t be possible without major corner cutting both in terms of labour and the environment. The pressure for companies to produce cheaply means that Fast Fashion companies often don’t pay their factory workers fair wages. Garment workers are often forced to work extreme overtime hours and lack access to trade unions. Furthermore, the majority of these workers are women and girls who are vulnerable to verbal, physical and sexual exploitation. This is especially true in Asia where many fast fashion manufacturers take their business because of the looser labor restrictions.

A Culture of Waste

Maybe the biggest problem with Fast Fashion is the culture of waste that it creates. The overabundance of inexpensive items means that we start to view clothing as cheap and disposable. We end up buying more often and keeping pieces for shorter amounts of time. And this process leaves us with a lot of clothing waste. A small number of lucky items are given a second life through charity shops however, the majority end up incinerated (releasing CO2 emissions) in landfills, or shipped abroad.

Moving towards Slow Fashion

While we are waiting for the bigger brands to get on board, basic change can happen on an individual level, you can make a difference. Avoid buying seven cheap dresses that you’ll ultimately toss. Invest in clothes that will last you a lifetime. You want to buy beautiful items that will be a lifetime companion. Buy the clothes that you love because you love them, not because they’re cheap. As a general rule, if you don’t think you’ll wear it 30 times, it’s probably not worth buying.

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