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To me, an 8p dresses seem a bit too good to be true. Nonetheless, this is the terrifying reality of the 2020 fast fashion market. Pretty Little Thing’s ‘Black Friday’ sale has generated a great deal of controversy, with the decision to host a 99% reduction off everything sale showing a complete disregard for those involved in the production line and, ultimately, our dying planet.

Climate change is undeniably the biggest challenge our generation faces. Fast fashion depletes water resources and contributes to 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. A disturbing 60% of all clothing ends up in landfill within a year of being made. We are constantly being told that we need more to be happy,  creating an obsession with accumulating more and more. This ‘throw away’ culture represents human nature at its worst and requires an extreme shift in attitude, as it is truly disgusting when we fully consider the implications it has on the environment.

Sale Signs
Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Unsplash

Until I researched it, I was completely naive to the fact that it is actually impossible to shop fast fashion and call yourself a feminist. The factories are often staffed by women, consisting of male managers, rife with sexual abuse and a disregard for maternity leave. Feminism is not about picking the issues you stand for and merely standing with women from the same backgrounds and cultures; it needs to be intersectional. Although the instant click of a button seems innocent and impersonal, by buying from these outlets, we are placing our desire for cheap clothing for above the rights of another person. The collapse of the factory, which supplied Primark in Bangladesh in 2013, with a shocking and preventable death toll of 1,134, epitomises the devastating impact fast fashion has on people involved in the production line. It is interesting that we are aware of the “amazing prices” but not what is sacrificed to make these deals possible. I admit that I have always been partial to a browse of fast fashion websites, enticed by the seemingly amazing deals. However, I was completely naive to the problems fast fashion causes and would argue that everyone needs to be educated on this so they can make an informed decision about where they buy from. After all, it may seem as though one person cannot make much difference, but if we were all to boycott these fast fashion outlets, we could apply significant pressure and incentivise industry-wide change.

person holding a sign that says "planet over profit"
Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash

So what can we do?

We have enough clothes for the next sixth generation, so we should all try and do buy second-hand when we can. Buying pre-loved items from charity shops evidently goes to a much better cause than the pockets of fast fashion billionaire CEOs. Depop is a great place to shop for and sell items instead of simply binning them. You could also rework clothes, as a way to keep yourself occupied in lockdown. Additionally, amongst the financial turmoil produced by the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a more important time to support small businesses who treat their workers with basic respect. These items may come at a greater upfront cost, but in the long run you will actually save as they will not break and end up in the bin after one night, resulting in an endless cycle of purchasing low-quality items. So, not only will it benefit people involved in the production line and the planet, it may also benefit you. To check which brands are sustainable you can download the free app GoodOnYou, which rates fashion brands out of 5, so you can shop more wisely. 

So next time you have the urge to browse Pretty Little Thing,  I urge you to consider: are you really willing to sacrifice the future of the planet simply because you don’t want to be seen in the same outfit twice?

Exeter University student
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