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Photos courtesy of Shein

Let’s Talk About Fast Fashion

What is it?


Fast fashion brands produce inexpensive clothes that you can often only wear a few times before they are ruined. The clothing tends to be a trend for the season and then thrown away after. Fashion has had an evolving framework, there once was tailor-made clothing and then the industry moved on to ready-to-wear. We have seen so many new changes within the recent years, but not all change is good change. 


We might not be paying a lot for our clothing but that doesn’t mean someone else isn’t paying the price. Fast fashion brands are able to produce such inexpensive clothing by underpaying their workers and by child labor. Workers are forced to work long hours without breaks, there have  even been instances where workers have been trapped in the factory while it collapsed. 


Fast fashion brands are not just stores like Zaful, Shein and Romwe; Zara, H&M and Forever 21 are also a part of this industry. Many people think about Zara and other Inditex brands as good quality and long wear garments, but Zara is the largest fast fashion brand in the world. 


The exploitation of factory workers is not the only thing we have to worry about. Fast fashion is killing the environment. Because they are producing more clothes than ever before, the factories are releasing harmful carbon emissions and millions of textiles into the ocean. According to the New York Times, “more than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetics, derived from fossil fuels, so if and when our clothing ends up in a landfill (about 85 percent of textile waste in the United States goes to landfills or is incinerated), it will not decay.”


How do we stop it?


The answer to this question isn’t to just stop buying from fast fashion brands because that is impractical. No one can afford to do that. As consumers, we have to buy fewer better quality clothes. We all know that white t-shirts are never going out of style, invest. We have to look for sustainable brands and we have to thrift! I know that this isn’t a change that we want to make, but it is one that we have to for the sake of the young girls working in factories and for the sake of our planet.

Penn State 2022
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