Image made available via Creative Commons. "young blonde girl shopping at the clothing store" by perzonseo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The state of fashion has always changed for every season, to create the newest most relevant style that everyone is looking for. This quick turnaround was influenced by the catwalk of high end fashion designs from the New York, Paris, London, Milan fashion weeks. Fast Fashion is the process of imitating these designs on a more consumable, lower quality, and cheaper alternative of clothing. While fast fashion caters to the majority of those who can’t afford the name brands of designer clothing, fast fashion has a negative impact on the environment, and also creates an unethical workplace for those who manufacture the product.

If you think that buying a 50 dollar shirt that will last you 10 years is too expensive, but buying a 12 dollar shirt that will last you 3 months is cheaper and cuter than the alternative, you’re not alone. The business model gives the consumers a mentality that renews their closet every season, discarding the old used up garments to the new and in-season style that everyone is wearing. Through a lower price point the consumer gives an assumption that quantity of different designs for different styles is more attractive than its minimal long lasting clothing.

The Fast Fashion Business model is based on getting rid of the old stock and putting newer ones in. It attracts customers to keep coming in and seeing what’s new. This model is only achievable due to its unethical manufacturing, through low labor cost in low income countries. According to a 2019 report by Oxfam “100 percent of garment workers earn below the living wage compared against Asia Floor Wage, and Global Living Wage Coalition”

This pattern of buying fast fashion products becomes a cycle that can’t be stopped until you start making a change. When buying products from fast fashion brands, it’s inevitable that those products become worn out, sooner than later. My H&M shirts have been shurk, torn, and stretched to the point of no return, and typically I have to go back to the store to buy a couple more just to have a rotation of shirts that will become the next season’s summer clothing.

Looking for an alternative to fast fashion, I discovered UNIQLO. A sustainable brand that goes away from fast fashion, bringing back high quality products that are sure to be used again and again for years to come. While they still sell a lot of clothing, they are much more sustainable, selling previous seasons designs every winter and a change of the same product every summer. Their clothing is super soft, high quality and I don’t worry about putting them in the wash because they feel brand new every time I use them. They also have an in-store policy of altering pants to perfectly fit customers. UNIQLO’s pants design created an overestimation of length to each pants to give an opportunity for customers to shorten them if needed. This small service gives a large opportunity to reduce waste of unwanted products because of the lack of consumers.

Fashion Nova is the prime example of the most efficient use of the fast fashion business model, avoiding the stores and employees pay to create a market but having an online market to directly give to its consumers. Social media influencers will often promote brands like Fashion Nova in their feed, such as Kylie Jenner, when they in fact may not actually wear the brand themselves. Careless promotion furthers the unethical dilemma that this fashion model runs on, which would be the grossly low wages and the astronomical waste that it makes.

This type of clothing business model is destructive and we should start considering how our need to remain relevant in fashion is harming others as well as the planet. 10 percent of carbon emissions are a result of fast fashion, discarded clothing and textiles pollute bodies of water as well as dumps. When we discard our out of style garments, we are increasing our individual carbon footprints. Fast fashion is an unsustainable waste of individuality. It’s time to pay attention to how we are contributing to this larger issue and take on a more sustainable approach to style.

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