You are currently viewing The Decline of Fast Fashion

The Decline of Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is a relatively recent concept. Over the last three decades, garment production has discreetly risen to dizzying rates, lulling young and elderly consumers into thinking of their garments as disposable. Retailers relocated their manufacturing operations to cheaper labour markets abroad. Naturally, from a business standpoint, more affordable was preferable. For both customers and retailers, it was a time of excess. Profits skyrocketed, and the quantity of clothing manufactured annually more than quadrupled to 100 billion from 2000 to 2014. Despite inflation, the average price of apparel fell between 2000 and 2014. Young people have been conditioned to accept low pricing as the norm; some even rely on these low prices to purchase trendy clothing. They believe that when one can get a brand-new T-shirt for $5, a dress for $20, or a pair of pants for $30, why spend more? However, a rising number of customers are changing their minds. As awareness of the detrimental consequences of a throwaway culture rises, they are raising concerns about the sustainability of the fast fashion model. They have also begun to act on their environmental views and personal preferences. So, let us have a look at some of the reasons why one should switch from fast fashion to mindful fashion. 

The environmental effects of fast fashion include the loss of nonrenewable resources, the generation of greenhouse gases, and the consumption of vast amounts of water and energy. The fashion sector is the second most significant water user, using around 700 gallons for manufacturing one cotton shirt and 2000 gallons to make a pair of jeans. Furthermore, manufacturers employ synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic, which biodegrade over hundreds of years. A 2017 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that polyester-based synthetic textiles account for 35% of all microplastics, or tiny pieces of non-biodegradable plastic, in the ocean. It takes much energy to produce plastic fibers for textiles. The process also generates a lot of volatile particulate matter and acids like hydrogen chloride. Furthermore, cotton, used in many fast fashion items, is not ecologically favorable to produce. Pesticides thought required for cotton growth pose health dangers to farmers. More environmentally friendly materials that may be utilised in clothes include wild silk, organic cotton, linen, hemp, and lyocell to reduce the waste produced rapidly.

Fast fashion has a significant environmental impact. In reality, the sector causes societal issues, particularly in emerging nations. According to the non-profit Remake, 80 percent of clothing is manufactured by young women aged 18 to 24. According to a 2018 US Department of Labor study, there is evidence of forced and child labour in the fashion sector in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, and Vietnam, among other places. Rapid manufacturing implies that sales and profits take precedence above human welfare. In 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight-story manufacturing building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, housing numerous textile companies, collapsed, killing 1 134 employees and wounding over 2500 others. According to The True Cost, one out of every six individuals works in the global fashion business, making it the most labor-intensive sector. These developing countries are also renowned for not adhering to environmental standards; for example, China is a major fast fashion manufacturer but is also notorious for land degradation and air and water pollution.

Several initiatives against Fast Fashion include #PayUp, #nonewclothes, and others. These commercials aim to persuade people to do something wiser instead of browsing the current trends or purchasing from fast fashion manufacturers. They could do it by reducing clothes consumption, upcycling, or purchasing vintage. Campaigns are underway to help people understand how a fast-fashion supply chain works. These ads intend to convey to the fashion industry as a whole that if they are not going to do right by our earth and people, they will not have a future in fashion. Right now, the sector is striving to find its way ahead. Fashion companies that use black and brown garment workers as slave labour to produce their garments quickly expressed their concern on social media. They discussed social justice’s importance to them in the aftermath of anti-fast fashion movements. From Haiti to Dhaka, black and brown women are protesting for unpaid wages and facing an assault from the police as they hunt for housing and food. To hold the fashion business accountable, we should consider raising money and utilizing our voices.

The industry’s large environmental footprint is being scrutinized, and a business model that has generated significant profit for the top retail and fashion firms may face change. Consumer behavior has evolved to be more potent than firms’ ability to respond. Over the next five to ten years, sales of high-volume, low-priced garments may fall by 10% to 30% due to ongoing consumer and business-focused education, marketing, and advocacy activities, as well as increased awareness of the potential advantages of improved waste and pollution control. According to a UBS Evidence Lab Apparel Sustainability Knowledge Pulse Check Survey performed in March 2020, 55% of respondents knew of people who have changed their shopping patterns as a result of becoming aware of sustainability-related issues. The reasons to quit fast fashion can be endless, but these were the primary ones for us. We realize that giving up fast fashion will not solve the climate change problem or end modern-day slavery, but it is a start. The more people warn major companies that they will not buy from them unless they reform, the better. They cannot continue to control how our environment and people are treated, and we cannot let this cycle continue.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash