Fast Fashion: Consumerism, Capitalism and Waste


Now more than ever the topic of sustainability has become a subject everyone hears about. Within the fashion community however, it has been an ongoing thing. With designers making hundreds of clothes per season to having so many seasons every year (Zara has 24 per year) and fast fashion still being a thing, it is clear that the industry has a lot to work on. The most important discussion to be had right now is, I believe, fast fashion. Fast fashion is responsible for 10% of all carbon emissions, which is incredibly high. It is also the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply and it also pollutes it with its microplastics. When you take all of this into account, it is difficult to argue for fast fashion. It is unethical, incredibly wasteful and it has exploitative working conditions. For instance, in China, Bangladesh and India they pay the workers around half to a fifth of a living wage and most of the workers, if not all, are already impoverished women. These workers are forced to work for 14 to 16 hours a day, every single day.  This is the result of wild capitalism. Clothes get made very fast to meet demand and current trends, but the workers are paid as little as possible so that the company can inflate their income. Despite all of this, fast fashion is still around and millions of clothing are bought every day. That’s because the majority of the world cannot afford to buy high-end “ethical” clothing and a lot of people do not have access to thrift stores. So they result to buying fast fashion. It is relatively cheap, very on trend and everyone has access to it.  Whilst it is mostly lower to middle class families that buy fast fashion, you cannot blame them for it, as most have no other way to buy clothes. It is necessary, especially for growing children and teens, to be able to buy new clothes when they outgrow their old ones.  The people to blame here are CEOs and the company itself; they have the means to pay workers a living wage and they could make sure that working conditions are safe. Government regulations could also be enacted to make sure that they cut back on pollution. Whilst the fashion industry should put an end to the excessive amounts of seasons and looks per season, that way they could focus on higher quality pieces, which are designed better. So, how could we stop fast fashion or lessen the effects of it? Here’s a report done by The Global Fashion Agenda that shows what the industry could do.

Image: Global Fashion Agenda 2018 Report

References: Business Insider. Sustain Your Style. World Economic Forum.

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