Forgetting Fast Fashion: Intro to the Issues

We all love a good deal, let's admit that right now. When we see something marked down by any percentage we're intrigued to look a little closer. But since when does getting a good deal mean doing away with good intentions? In an age of fast fashion where styles are always changing, where people are always wanting the next new thing, we have lost our sense of connection with the outside world. There are a few problems with fast fashion, from all angles that need to be looked at closer by our generation.  

People aren't spending less, they're just buying more. Yet instead of buying a quality item that won't need replacing for years, we get the cheap thing and say "godspeed". Even if the elastic makes breaking sounds. Even if when bending, the fabric goes completely see through. Why not spend a little extra and get something that will make it more than one season? Fashion is always cycling through, hence the updated seventies vibe that was all over last seasons displays. Quality wins out, every time, over quantity in terms of benefits.  

There is also the issue with the clothing life cycle. An item bought at Primark or Forever 21 isn't designed to live long, it's designed to last the season, so when the season is over, that t-shirt or sundress get's tossed into a donation bag or thrown away. Far too many clothes are being constantly thrown in the garbage or pushed along in the life cycle simply because there's no room in the closet. Most clothes that are donated don't even stay within the country. They get shipped out, mostly to Africa, by the truck-full. Sometimes being sold at extremely high rates.  

Which is also a sustainability issue. The natural environment cannot continue to take these fast fashion companies. Think about every cami or base layer you've ever gotten. Now imagine what you do with those shirts when you're done with them. You don't donate them because who wants an old frayed tank, so you toss it. In the garbage. Now think about every other student at Lasell doing the same thing. Then add everyone in your home town and just keep adding until your brain starts to hurt. And that's just the under layers that are probably made out of a natural fiber like cotton. Think about the effect of the clothes that are made of non-natural fibers, like polyester. Not to mention all the issues involving textile manufacturing, like pesticides on plant-based fibers, animal rights violations with animal fibers like wool and the chemicals involved with creating synthetic textiles. The Fast Fashion priorities don't have these issues at the top of the list. Too often being environmentally conscious isn't even ON the list.     

Cheaper prices means cheaper labor. A huge part of why those leggings cost $2.99 is because the company is most likely cutting corners with their suppliers. Fabric and supplies can only be cut down so low in cost, and there's limited ways companies can lower the cost on transportation, so instead they deduct pay or pay by piece instead of by hour. While the latter may seem like a good idea, encouraging workers to always achieve their best, the issue is that they feel so much pressure to get faster and faster to complete more and more pieces, that they avoid doing things like going to the bathroom. Or eating. Or just taking a break in general. If they do then the work can pile up and they fall behind for the rest of the day and don't get that little extra they needed to make ends meet. Going cheaper can also mean that the higher ups let the safety protocols in work environments slide. This could mean working in "sick" buildings (structures that can have any range of problems from poor ventilation to mold, etc.) or buildings that are cheaply structured and aren't designed to hold the contents and employees of the factory. Look into the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh for the biggest example of this. Factory workers were told they had nothing to worry about, DESPITE cracks appearing in a pillar. They were told to continue working. Over a thousand people died.   

At the end of the day, this still may not have an effect on anyone. Primark will still be the place to go because it's affordability beats it's moral history. Forever 21 is a three story experience in most places that makes sure every "necessity" is covered. And H&M gives that business casual vibe perfect for young twenty somethings trying to make it in the workplace.  

But before deciding if that five dollar little black dress is worth it, ask the question, does the cost really stop at the price tag? And whose really paying for it? 

*There are many more issues related to this topic and this is nowhere the end all be all to why the fast fashion industry needs to clean up it's act. It is meant more as an introduction to the main issues to get young consumers to start thinking about how what they buy really does have an effect on the world around them