Finding a Solution in the Fight Against Fast Fashion
By Beth Hoad
Fast fashion, a great price tag for a global crisis? In some way or another we have all fell victim to fast fashion, at least I know I have. How could you not like it; you can buy stylish, cheap clothes, that keep you on trend. What exactly is fast fashion and why do so many Americans easily fold into this industry that is hurting us and the world?
Fast fashion is cheaply produced and affordable clothing that is a copy of the latest fashion trends being manufactured at a fast pace to please consumers. Clothing stores like Zara, H&M, Fashion Nova and Forever21 are prime examples of fast fashion, a plethora of clothing options and all for a bargain. With the rise of social media influencers, fast fashion has weaseled its way into a niche market of relevance. The blindingly fast pace of production means that clothes are now manufactured, worn and disposed of much faster. Because staying relevant and fashionable is prioritized over environmental impacts.
But has it become normal to over consume? Does throw away culture allow you to stay current?
Simply put, yes. Fast fashion allows consumers to have the novelty of staying current with the popular expectations of social media. But that means when costs and quality are low, environmental expectations are cut, and this is where the problems lie. Over production of cheap materials and toxic dyes has made the fashion industry the second largest polluter of clean water. This industry is also emitting enormous amounts of greenhouses gases, from the sheer size of the production, manufacturing and transportation process that is involved. Dumping and burning unused products is contributing a huge amount to landfill waste, from people quickly wearing and discarding products, to leftover amounts of products never selling or making the final cut in stores. The short shelf-life of these over-produced products is pure wasteful. In short, fast fashion’s affordability has a huge environmental footprint.
However, making the jump to sustainable practices can actually be quite easy. When purchasing clothes, look at the quality of the material, if it’s made with low quality materials it will degrade faster. Try and ditch the synthetic fibers and look for eco-friendly fibers like organic cotton or recycled textiles. Look at manufacturing countries that have stricter regulations on factories such as the US and Canada. Check to see if the store is locally owned, ethical or owned by big business. Typically, smaller businesses know about their products and want to help the consumer with their purchase. Brands such as ONE432, Vustra, and Known Supply produce beautifully designed, sustainable fashion. Remember that purchasing sustainable pieces is a future investment for your wardrobe, your health and the world. I always think that if I have to buy a $10 dollar t-shirt five times to make it last a year, I may as well invest in a sustainable $60 dollar t-shirt that will last me two years. The price might be higher, but the quality will be outstanding.
DOB commits to offering responsibly-made fashion with a purpose, one that aims to be sustainable, inclusive and locally rooted. Let’s start supporting brands that have an impact in their local neighborhoods. Now is the time to change our path and begin a journey that allows us to live more sustainably for a better future.