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  • Writer's pictureTeam DesignerShala

The dark side of fast fashion

Ever heard of the term fast fashion and wonder what it means? Why is it called “fast”? Well, dive into this fashion blog on fast fashion, it’s impact, the downside and more!


Fast fashion is an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothes that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers. Some of the famous fast fashion brands include Zara, Forever 21, H&M Group, Gap, Primark, New Look, and Fashion Nova. All these brands are known for introducing new clothes and trends within a short period. One can never buy the same clothes twice from these brands. They make purchasing impulsive and affordable. Shoppers are encouraged to keep updating their wardrobes regularly to keep up with the ever-changing trends. The moment we enter their showroom, we find it necessary to own at least three to four pieces from their new collection. But do you know we are paying a price beyond money to buy these clothes?



Controversies of fast fashion


Worker abuse

Not all fast fashion brands have an ethical business model. Did you know that in the year 2018, despite their promise, one of the largest fast-fashion brands in the world, failed to pay 850,000 factory workers? Yup, you heard me right. Apart from low wages, workers in fast fashion industries are also over-exploited. Some of them have reportedly faced workplace abuse and sexual assaults in their workplace. And the big brands who employ them turned a blind eye to these workers. Some of them don't even have proper safety measures installed in their factories. A small fire accident can take away a person.


Sustainability issues

Most fast fashion brands claim to be "sustainable" with their production process. But are they sustainable? No. Definitely not. Fast fashion can never be sustainable. They keep producing clothes in huge quantities every week. The unsold clothes are dumped in landfills or thrown away into dustbins. How can you be sustainable when you generate so much waste every week? But some fast fashion brands are ready to do anything to become "green and sustainable". H&M tries to make their production process more environment-friendly by producing their electricity. The unsold clothes from the previous batch are burnt in their factories. The heat energy produced is converted into electrical energy. That sounds ridiculous. They call it "saving energy" But the actual way to save energy is not producing it in the first place. Besides, they fail to think of the natural resources wasted in burning these clothes. Well, that's not sustainable either. To be more sustainable, they can try producing clothes in smaller quantities. That would help in cutting production costs while saving the planet. Why produce and waste them?



Body Positivity issues

Though this sounds out of the context, it is also a major issue with fast fashion brands. All these brands spend heavily on advertisements. If we take a moment and think about it, most of the ads we see on the internet are from fast fashion brands. All they ever cast are Tall, skinny, and white women. We all see those ads and curse ourselves for not having such bodies. One of the famous fast fashion brands once sent protein bars to customers who ordered plus-size clothes. And they refused to redeem their mistake. If you are gonna produce clothes for ordinary people, make sure the clothes fit them. Clothes that are meant for the public, should be made according to the public. Do not expect people to fit in your clothes. Who on earth has these ultra-thin bodies other than models anyways?


Low-quality products

Another main problem with fast fashion is the quality of products produced. In order to sell clothes at a cheaper rate, many brands produce poor-quality goods. Not only does this help in cutting their production cost but also in making customers buy more. Low quality would have a short life and people come back more often to get the products. And, humans naturally buy more when things are sold at low prices.


Material waste

Yet another environmental problem with fast fashion is poor waste management. But in this case, we cannot blame the brands. Every time a new collection is introduced, people want to buy them immediately. However, most of the used clothes are not given to thrifts or charities. They get thrown into dustbins. The concept of "recycling" or "upcycling" used clothes is nowhere near the fast fashion industry.


Negative impact on developing countries

Many developing countries do not have strict labor laws. It becomes an advantage for fast fashion brands from developed countries. Most of them say they "outsource" the work to developing countries. In reality, they get their work done by exploiting the poor factory workers. These workers have poor working conditions. They don't get proper safety equipment and protection while working. Some of the fast fashion retailers hire children as old as 12 years to work in their factories. They have to work long hours for low wages. And the countries they belong to don't even have proper labor laws.


Synthetic materials

Some people say that fast fashion uses synthetic fiber in its products and not natural fiber. Used clothes cannot be decomposed. It creates a lot of environmental damage. Other than this, they also use chemical-based dyes to add colors to their fabrics. With poor waste management, used chemicals are discharged into water bodies and barren lands. That adversely affects the environment.



Conclusion


Overall, Fast fashion has a very dark side that most of us fail to realize. We all think it is cool to go shopping every month and upgrade our wardrobes. But in reality, we are just contributing to the destruction of our planet. We put so many fellow human beings into trouble just for the sake of looking better. For once, let's break this and support traditional industries. It not only helps small businesses but also brings out the forgotten traditions and cultural heritage of our nation. I hope, after reading this, you get an insight on what is going on behind making your clothes. Next time, check well before buying clothes from a particular brand. Start thrift shopping and upcycling clothes. Donate used clothes instead of throwing them away.



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