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Style > Fashion

We Need to Stop Shaming the Working Class for Buying Fast Fashion

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

Shopping sustainably by thrifting and buying from sustainable brands can be a step closer to environmental change. However, it is those who belong to the upper class that can make the biggest difference. 

Fast fashion, which can be defined as clothing that costs little time and money to produce, has been criticized in recent years due to its role in the pollution of our planet.  

Since these clothes are made of cheap materials, they tend to not last very long, causing people to throw them away. They also become trendy for a short time until the consumers decide they want to move onto a different trend. This phenomenon is called microtrends. Microtrends and the low quality of fast fashion are both reasons why landfills overflow with clothing. Because of social media platforms like TikTok, microtrends spread more quickly than ever. 

 In 2020, model Kendall Jenner was photographed wearing House of Sunny’s Hockney dress in green. The dress quickly became many people’s top desired item reports Input magazine. While the dress was still trending, the fast fashion brand Shein began copying its design and selling replicas on its website. Cheaper versions of the dress were now available to anyone for as little as 15 dollars. The sudden accessibility to the design caused people to grow bored of it, as everyone seemed to have the dress and would not stop talking about it. In no time, the trend was gone. 

 TikTok user @annaliesedayes made a video where she shared that she found a duplicate of the House of Sunny dress in a charity shop.  

“It’s just showing you how quickly all those trends are flying by,” she said in her video.  

The quickness with which clothing becomes trendy impacts how much money people spend to buy them. Overconsumption of fast fashion means an increase in disposal of items. As we learn the risks of buying fast fashion, more people suggest solutions such as shopping secondhand and buying from sustainable brands. Many argue that these options can lead us a step closer to environmental change.  

Although there seems to be more awareness about the impact of fashion on our environment, many people still buy from websites like Shein because they see it as their only option to access the specific clothes they want. Many individuals, especially teenagers, who use clothing as a form of self-expression are often not wealthy enough to shop from expensive sustainable brands. They might also want to buy specific pieces that might not be found in a thrift store. In their case, they rely on the low prices of fast fashion to dress in a way that feels true to them without going over their budget. 

You might be wondering if this means we should stop complaining about fast fashion’s harmful influence. It does not. It simply means that we should stop shaming the working class for buying fast fashion and shift our focus to those who have the funds to shop sustainably but choose not to.  

Social media personalities like Tana Mongeau have been criticized for spending enormous amounts of money on fast fashion brands. In 2019, Mongeau uploaded a YouTube video sharing that she had spent 3,000 dollars, worth of clothing from the fast fashion brand, Dollskill. Some of the comments under the video show the disapproval of many of the viewers.  

“Still confused why Tana hasn’t created her own fast fashion clothing line called canceled,” commented user @lifewithryan.  

According to celebritynetworth.com, Mongeau’s net worth is 4 million dollars. Therefore, it is no surprise that people don’t support her choice of spending large amounts of money on cheap, unsustainable clothing. Mongeau is one example of how the upper class has the power to harm our environment by ignoring their impact in the fast fashion industry. Since the upper class contributes to fashion, choosing to shop sustainably can pressure the industry to change their ways of production. 

Instead of judging those who buy fast fashion, we should all try to educate people about its harm and hold accountable those who have the means to make a difference. By working together instead of against each other, we could finally make a positive impact on the environment.  

Rosamelia is a journalism student at Temple University. Her interests include reading, fashion, and social justice. When she's not writing for Her Campus, you can find her reviewing books on her bookstagram: @amelias_biblioteca.