You may have heard the term “fast fashion” before, but what does it mean? Fast fashion is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly in retail to fit whatever trend is happening at the moment. This term would apply to giant retailers such as Forever 21 and Zara. You can usually tell if something is fast fashion if, for example, the inner seam of your favourite pair of jeans turns inward, leaving it crooked around your leg, like the photo below.
This is a clear indication of poor stitching and there’s usually little you can do about it. Besides being annoying, fast fashion also sucks for the environment. According to the UN Environment Programme, fast fashion produces 20 per cent of global wastewater and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions.
Further issues arise with the fabrics used to create these garments. Often these clothes are made of polyester or nylon. Whenever you wash your clothes, millions of microfibres are released into the water and moved to the oceans and lakes, thus contaminating them and the animals living there. Scientists are increasingly finding microplastics in fish and smaller aquatic animals. You may not be using plastic bags or straws, but these fabrics are still littering our oceans with plastics that animals consume.
If you like the designs from fast fashion retailers, instead of shopping for them in their shops, purchase the same styles at thrift stores.
I recently went to Plato’s Closet with a friend. They have adorable pieces–some even with the tags still on. You can sell the clothes that you no longer need or want and buy pieces that you like.
If you’re not sure how sustainable a particular brand is, try looking it up on Good On You (they even have an app). It’s a site that breaks down how sustainable and ethical a brand is, like how they help the environment, how they treat their workers and how much it costs. If a brand you search isn’t that great, they give you similar alternatives. The downside is, it does focus on women’s clothing so conventional male clothing would be a tad bit more challenging to navigate on the app.
Or if you’re handy with a sewing machine, buy some fabric and go nuts. Make your clothes!
All in all, it boils down to thinking about what you’re buying and shopping sustainably. If you don’t like something but it’s what’s trendy at the moment, don’t buy it. Recycle your clothes. You don’t have to keep buying new things because you’ve already worn a piece “too many times.” It’s fashion. It’s supposed to be fun.
You can still have fun with your style without hurting the environment and the workers who get paid next to nothing with little benefits in the fast fashion industry.