Why Fast Fashion is Bad for Our Planet, Feminism, and You

By: Meredith Welborn

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Photo credit: Cyprus Updates

If you pay attention to fashion news, you’ve most likely heard the term “fast fashion.” According to Merriam-Webster, fast fashion is “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” Fast fashion companies stress the importance of getting their clothes from the runway to the store at a microscopic speed. This doesn’t sound all that bad right? This is the philosophy of many brands you hear of very often and probably shop at equally as often — brands like Zara, Forever 21, H & M, Gap, and Asos. Well, recently there has been a push back on fast fashion as it is harmful to the environment, infringing on feminism, and bad for your bank account, believe it or not.

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Photo credit: East Chapel Hill Observer

Fast fashion brands rely heavily on trends and clothes that can be made cheaply. This means that not only will the items you purchase go out of style relatively quickly, but odds are, they will fall apart just as fast. The point of this, for the companies, is to draw you back into the store time and time again. Even though the price tag may look cheap at the time, it is more economic for you to invest in quality pieces that you can wear for a long time. Most of the out-of-date or falling-apart pieces also wind up in landfills even if you give them to Salvation Army or Goodwill. According to Forbes, only “10% of donated clothes get resold,” and on top of that horrifying statistic, “we send 13 trillion tons of our clothes to landfills in the U.S. alone where they sit for 200 years leaving toxic chemicals and dyes to contaminate local soil and groundwater.”

Yes, it is true that the fast fashion industry provides many jobs to people around the world, particularly women, but most of them hardly make enough money to survive — around $3 a day to be exact. There are also problems with illegal child labor, sexual harassment, and poor working conditions for these women. It’s hard to believe that these brands that are incredibly popular force women into jobs like this, exposing girls starting at age 14 to the horrible work environment of the fast fashion industry.

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Photo credit: Reformation

There are, however, many companies today that do fashion the right way. American Apparel, Everlane, and Reformation all care about the process in which their clothes are made which means they care about both their employees and consumers. Lucky for us, Reformation has a storefront here in Dallas on Knox-Henderson! Trying out vintage is also a great way to help the environment. Let me clear the air: vintage does not mean old — it just means previously loved! Let’s not forget, vintage clothing is so in right now. Be conscious of what you’re putting on your body and where it comes from — there’s probably a laundry list of people who suffered so that you could wear that cute top from Zara.

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