With thrifting becoming more popular and more consumers beginning to look at how companies produce clothes, fast fashion has been thrust into the spotlight. Social activists are quick to jump onto the issue and promote how we all must put a stop to this practice in the name of sustainability and fair treatment of workers. But is focusing on fast fashion really the right way to go about increasing our sustainability as a society?
Fast fashion is a term that is used to refer to the increased consumption of clothes for cheap prices and are usually of lower quality. These clothing items come from big corporations such as Shein, Zara, and Primark. These companies usually have lots of trendy items that won’t be in style for long and have such cheap prices due to producing their clothes overseas, where they can pay workers the bare minimum. Many of the stores that we buy clothes from fall into the fast fashion category in one way or another.
Many social activists have been sharing media and sentiments that consumers should stop purchasing from these brands and go out and find other sustainable options, or start to shop second-hand more. And by no means am I saying that these are bad things to do. I myself try to be more sustainable in the way that I shop, considering and purchasing pieces that I know I can get more use out of and avoid falling into the fads that are going on. But this isn’t the correct way to go about this issue.
The issue of fast fashion is at the corporate level. Fast fashion is such a large issue that we cannot fix it by simply telling individuals to shop less at Shein and Target, especially at a point in society where more individuals are unemployed and are making less money. We can’t change the habits of hundreds of millions of people, or even billions, to change the entire way they shop.
But for some reason, as a society, we keep blaming each other for the rise and consistency of fast fashion. When we live in a society where the minimum wage is not enough to get by, how can we be expected to pay for the price of sustainability? As a person who lives in a small area where the economy is failing, I don’t have the luxury of finding sustainable clothes around me and have a low number of thrift stores.
Fast fashion is for sure a severe issue that we have to fix and change to support the longevity of our planet, and I will discuss in a later post how to help decrease your fashion carbon footprint, but are we actually approaching the issue correctly? Instead, let’s try shifting the focus to the companies who are too concerned with profits, and are forcing fast fashion on consumers.