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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Furman chapter.

The fashion industry is a long persisting and some might say problematic part of our lives. Its history can be traced for hundreds of years and is cemented in women’s experience. In earlier Victorian eras, it was often a woman’s only way of expressing herself. Fashion still exists to allow people to make impactful statements, but now it functions to reflect much more artistic and societal statements. 

For as long as it has been around, fashion has functioned to express the expectations and roles of its society. As women entered the workforce following both World Wars, there was a distinct shift from restrictive to practical. There was a steady decline in corsets and higher hemlines; the Flapper is a well-known prime example of the new life breathed into women’s fashion. Fashion followed women through her new place in the world and steadily adapted to new demands. One development that it did unfortunately respond to is increased consumption. 

Fast fashion can be traced back to the openings of two stores: Zara and H&M. Both started as smaller stores in Europe. Upon opening their doors in the U.S. in the early 2000’s, a whole new shopping mentality was introduced. It was a brand new idea to buy something with the intention of only wearing it once or twice due to the cheaper quality and price. Now consumers are able to be more short-sighted and ultimately care less about their purchases because the financial commitment is much lower. With the growth of the internet and large shopping companies, such as Amazon, there is an expectation for instant gratification; fashion is a part of this new world. Trends spread like wildfire, and now leave a trail of discarded clothes in their wake. It can be difficult to track exactly a clothing item’s lifespan, but about 80% of unwanted items eventually end up in landfills. According to the EPA, about 85% of donated clothing also ends up in landfills due to high volume and just general rejection. This “throw-away” culture has had detrimental effects on both the earth and the people who must work in hazardous conditions to produce them. There is always someone paying the price for our “cheaper” clothes.

Recently there has been a spotlight shown onto these injustices as environmental and human rights initiatives gain traction and popularity. Therefore, the theme continues of fashion reflecting the demands and beliefs of the world it is within. We have the ability to change the industry for the better as long as we continue to demand sustainable changes for the future. I’m just asking that we think twice before running to Zara for a weekend outfit without consulting our current closets or resale vendors first. 


Annie Hodge

Furman '23

Annie Hodge is a senior English major at Furman University. She watches any documentary that Netflix recommends and religiously listens to the podcast You're Wrong About. She also absolutely loves La Croix and pesto. Someday she hopes to find a career that combines her loves of English, human rights, sustainability, and design. Originally from Atlanta, she hopes to someday live in New York City or London.