As I’ve worked with clients over the years, invariably, in every closet lies an extensive selection of fast fashion pieces. Their story is one of regret.
What fast fashion leaves them with are mismatched lapels, shrunken tops and bottoms, button holes that don’t line up and dull colors after only one wash. Now and then I find one piece that is well made and hangs right, but that is the exception.
The challenge with fast fashion is the story behind the story of our clothing. Just like our food, someone made our clothing. If you know you will spend your hard earned money on a blouse that gets one wearing, you might be tempted to ask:
Who created these pieces?
What is the social and economic status of the workers creating the clothing?
What kind of environment do the workers have?
What happened to the land and water and animals in production?
How was this piece transported and by whom?
What fabrics are being used to produce the item?
In her article, What Does Fast Fashion Mean, Anyway?, advocate Audrey Stanton says this about fast fashion:
with this increased rate of production and questionable supply chains, corners are inevitably cut. Clothing is made in a rushed manner, and brands are selling severely low-quality merchandise. There isn’t enough time for quality control or to make sure a shirt has the right amount of buttons—not when there is extreme urgency to get clothing to the masses.
As consumers of clothing, it’s our responsibility to ask questions about where our clothing comes from, and to consider whether to contribute to the decline in fashion. Do we want to add to the piles of clothing already headed to the dump?
Clothing is a part of our lives. We have to wear it. But do we have to continue buying pieces that don’t align with our values, or that promote destroying creation?
I encourage you to read all of Audrey’s suggstions below and start asking questions about your next purchase:
Here’s how you can spot fast fashion brands when shopping online or in-store:
Look for rapid production, are new styles launching every week?
Look for trend replication, are styles from a particular brand cheaply made versions of trends from recent fashion shows?
Look for low-quality materials, are fabrics synthetic and garments poorly constructed, made only to last a few wears?
Look where manufacturing is taking place, is production happening where workers receive below living wages?
Look for competitive pricing, is new stock released every few days and then discounted steeply when it doesn’t sell?
Thankfully there is an abundant cache and information on fast fashion and what it could mean to you.
I recommend these three to start:
Solene Rauturier’s article:
in 2013, the world had a reality check when the Rana Plaza clothing manufacturing complex in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1,000 workers. That’s when consumers really started questioning fast fashion and wondering at the true cost of those $5 t-shirts. If you’re reading this article, you might already be aware of fast fashion’s dark side, but it’s worth exploring how the industry got to this point—and how we can help to change it.
Alex Crumbie’s article:
Fashion brands have long used new styles and lower prices to attract customers, but previously brands would plan new ranges many months, even years, in advance. The pace of change was relatively slow and there were fewer products on offer. In comparison, fast fashion is focused on responding to ever-changing consumer tastes as quickly as possible.
Lydia Noyes’s article:
Fast fashion has upended the clothing industry. It’s turned updating your wardrobe from a semi-annual investment to the equivalent of ordering takeout. The trend towards disposable clothing is taking over the world, but it didn’t happen all at once.