What is Fast Fashion?
Do you ever look into your closet, feel like you have A LOT of clothes, a blur of colours and shapes, but have nothing to wear? Even when you dig in to the back, you may realize… a few pieces still have their tags on and you’ve totally forgotten about them… “but it was really cheap and pretty cute so how could I not get it?” We’ve all been there and we’ve all said it, but THIS IS A SYMPTOM OF FAST FASHION.
Let’s start of by defining “Fast Fashion”: It’s the phenomenon whereby production of clothing is expedited in order to get a trend from the catwalk to stores as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
Companies like Zara and Forever 21 have completely changed our society’s mindset around how we consume clothing and trends. Rather than two to four seasons (Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer) of newness a year, companies are putting out 52 seasons of newness every year. Constantly changing the trends so that you feel like you always need something new and can’t be caught dead in the same outfit on instagram twice. This is a strategy to make you buy more items, more frequently.
Let’s break down the “quickly” bit of the definition.
How do these companies turn designs around in this short of a time period? Essentially, they decrease their standards on quality, fit and ethics in order to drive down the time it takes from design to production. Designers used to (some still do and some are starting to turn towards slow fashion again) go back and forth on samples with their factories numerous times to make sure the fit was perfect. Currently, Zara can take a design from drawing to the floor of their stores in TWO WEEKS. Goodbye quality and fit checks.
Now let’s jump into the “cheaply” bit of the definition.
The only reason it’s possible for you to buy a $30 dress is because of overseas manufacturing. Labour accounts for 20 to 40 percent of the cost of a garment. This large piece of the pie of the total cost of production means that the cheaper an item of clothing is, the smaller the pay cheque for the personi sewing it. There is a direct correlation. As fast fashion companies look to keep their production as cheap as possible, they put massive pressure on their factory partners to receive lower prices per garment. In countries such as Bangladesh, factories cannot afford to lose business so they will likely bend to the pressure. This often comes at the cost of factory conditions, safety, and quality of the garments. Do you remember the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013? 1134 people died because the building was not kept safe for the workers. There is a person on the other end of where your t-shirt came from – we are so often disconnected from the purchases we make but every consumer decision has an impact, make it count.
COMING UP NEXT:
STRATEGIES ON HOW TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR CLOSET AGAIN