We see beautiful displays from outside the clothing showroom showing brand new clothes. We continuously feed ourselves with the latest fashion trends on social media, like what celebrities are wearing and we want to be seen as fashionable and trendy. So, we end up wasting lots of money on those clothes even if we don’t want them. Fashion companies like Zara, H&M, Forever 21, Mango, etc., lure customers through their marketing tactics and produce millions of clothes with new designs per month. It induces the customers to buy more than they want. This is what fast fashion companies do.
When we talk about fast fashion companies, they create and market a high volume of clothes at a lower price, and their shelves change every week. People have now set their standards where they can dress like a runway model or a celebrity. Trends are mainly spotted in social media, where a certain type of fashion is born and adopted by the people. That itself is not the issue. The issue is that these trends do not last for long, which makes fast fashion unsustainable.
The strategy of fast fashion companies is to produce low-cost and low-quality clothes. To begin with, in the manufacturing process, factories spill poisonous wastewater into rivers and emit greenhouse gases, just to produce clothing that ends in the landfills, oceans, or the air, damaging the ozone layer and ending up into the food chain. These clothes are discarded quickly from the customers’ closets due to their low quality. They use different toxic chemicals that are found in the colours of the clothes, cause cancer, and are used during the production process. This process is not focused on using environment-friendly techniques, but instead on reducing costs.
Fast fashion companies like Zara and H&M produce designs the same as the design of luxury fashion brands. In the USA, there are no copyright protection laws for designers. These companies copy luxury brands and produce clothes within a week at a lower cost. They tend to copy from the small designers too, and if those designers intend to sue them, companies resort to unethical tactics to silence them. These small designers can’t afford a legal war against these giant companies. This leads to exploitation of smaller artists.
Labour abuse allegations
Fast fashion companies employ labourers from developing countries as these countries do not have any labour laws and other human protection laws. There have been many allegations against companies of paying the labourers minimum wage, yet charging exorbitant amounts from their customers.
There are few ways through which consumers can contribute and change their ways towards more equitable fashion.
Buyers need to change their buying pattern and buy more sustainable brands or from small designers so they can also earn and make a living. Instead of just looking at the low cost, consumers should try and understand at whose expense they can save their money. Choosing a different and innovative style over mass-produced ones will also give your wardrobe a new touch.
People need to invest more in better quality clothes which can be for a longer time in their closets. Try to create different outfits using the same piece of clothing. If you buy good fabric clothing, they can easily be repurposed later for DIY projects such as bags, scarves and more. Even better, you can donate them to your local charity or Goodwill.
While it may seem tempting to have a large closet with all the latest pieces in it, you also need to have an understanding of its overall impact on society. Be fashionable, but make your practices sustainable.