Everywhere you look, you’ll see fast fashion. It’s very convenient, we can all get sucked into is quite easy and it could be seen as bad fashion. One business that seems to make the most of fast fashion is clothing giant Zara. They’re now worth over 13 billion US dollars and are in almost 100 countries.
Zara does so well at making clothes that fit really well and are at a really affordable price. It does make you question how it is even possible to make, transport and sell these kinds of clothes without something pretty unethical going on. However, it does seem that Zara is making efforts to become more sustainable.
Diving deeper, it does look like there are huge humanitarian and environmental costs to this type of product. Many of these companies have more than likely committed some real sketchy parts of their business, and for now, we’ll just try and cover the environmental ones.
Some trends aren’t fashionable
The term ‘fast-fashion’ is used to describe the accelerated process of turning design ideas into clothes as quickly as possible. As an example, Zara only takes 14-21 days from the inception to creation and sale of a product.
This ability to create new trends quickly, combined with good old marketing campaigns, means these stores can change their stores in an instant to quickly build hype around a new line of clothing.
Much like a fast-food chain that’s constantly changing its menu items to stay relevant, these fashion stores can introduce new clothes on a weekly basis.
This is more temptation for people to buy the newest stuff, it means older items are more likely to be thrown away as they quickly become irrelevant.
Why is fast fashion bad?
The constant overconsumption has unfortunately created high environmental consequences. From the supply side, a lot of the material used on these items is polyester which is a petroleum-based fibre that requires a shit load of fossil fuels for manufacturing. According to Forbes, this now equates to 70 million barrels of oil.
The rise in fast fashion came hand-in-hand with the rise of polyester production. Now polyester manufacturing for clothing outpaces other common materials like cotton and wool. Not the best as you can tell, and what makes things even trickier is polyester is non-biodegradable. It can take anywhere from 20, to 200 years for this material to degrade.
It’s also one of the leading causes of micro-plastic in the ocean. This is from washing in a washing machine, which releases the small fibres, and then creeps its way into the largest water sources.
Polyester is really cheap. It makes the cost of manufacturing thousands of clothes way cheaper than ever before. The only reason it can do this is the high environmental cost that comes with it.
One of the worst fashion trends
Fast fashion has carved a new way for more problems in the way of waste. So much gets thrown away due to the push for keeping relevant with new fashions and not wearing older clothes. And now the fashion industry one of the highest-ranked industries for pollution in the world.
The real cost of cheap clothing is much higher than you may think. And there are many companies within the fashion industry that are trying to make things a little better. They offer more sustainable clothing and more options to be a little smarter with your buying.
Buying second hand shouldn’t be overlooked either. Or even swapping clothes. It’s a really subtle way of reducing the amount of waste that goes into our lovely planet and also doesn’t feed the industry demand.
With so many trends over the years from pinstripe suits, to Adidas poppers, the fast fashion trend is probably one of the worst fashion trends to hit the industry, our lifestyle, and the environment.