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How TikTok & Instagram Is Promoting Mass Consumerism of Fast Fashion

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

When you wake up, what is the first thing that you do? Check your social media, right? It is no surprise that social media has become an influential and vital source of entertainment, communication and a social outlet. Social media has many uses, but the most common practice over the years is to showcase outfit(s) of the day and individual styles. Popular apps like Instagram, Tik-Tok and Pinterest are some of the few that embrace the fashion world. 

Recently, Tik-Tok is influencing fashion with clothing hauls and the topic of this article — fast fashion. Fashion bloggers get inspiration from runways or celebrities and then use it to create their own fashion content. They use TikTok or Instagram reels to film hauls of their latest purchases, and showcase their newest outfits. The goal behind these videos is to promote the latest trends and inspire people to go and buy those outfits. This leads to the concept of fast fashion. 

So what is fast fashion? It can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing pieces from a runway or celebrity culture turned into garments at breakneck speed to meet customer demand. The idea is to get the newest styles and trends in stores as fast as possible so that shoppers can buy them while they are still in style. 

Within Instagram and Tik-Tok, there are a lot of accounts that focus their content around hauls and putting outfits together for users to get inspiration from. Clothing hauls are posted daily with newly released clothing pieces from Zara, H&M, Aritzia, Converse, Princess Polly, NastyGal, Shein, and many others. The list is endless!

The problem with these fashion-related videos is that many of the outfits and clothing pieces posted fall under the category of fast fashion. People are quick to buy something they like, maybe wear it a couple of times, then get rid of it because it’s no longer in style or the quality of the garment has diminished. This raises an important question: Is fast fashion clothing worth investing in? It really depends. 

If you like to be up-to-date on trends and style, then the answer is absolutely yes. However, if you don’t really care about the latest and newest trends, then the answer is no. Or, if you are someone who worries about climate change, you might want to think twice about spending your money on fast fashion. This is a complex question that can’t be given a simple answer.

The following are some important components of fast fashion you should know:

  • Limited quantity for certain clothing pieces (primarily seen in Zara) — if you don’t buy it when you first see it, you’ll most likely miss your chance to get your hands on the garment. 
  • Turnaround time between when a trend is seen on a runway or celebrity to when it hits stores is extremely short (such as a single day)
  • Manufactured using cheap and unethical materials in exploited countries where human rights violations are way too common

Personally, I love shopping, but I gravitate towards timeless statement pieces. I have clothing pieces from five years ago that are still in style today. Every now and then, I buy fast fashion pieces, so I’m pretty neutral about the subject. Most of my outfits are inspired by Instagram fashion and lifestyle accounts, which is why I can tell you that social media is like a runway. In fact, most of my saved posts are for outfit inspiration purposes, or so that I can eventually buy the outfit if I don’t already own it.

However, from personal experience, trying to keep up with the newest and latest fast fashion trends can be expensive. Fashion bloggers sometimes make hauls on expensive brands making it hard for their followers to purchase. This is where stores like Shein, thrifting and dupes come into the picture. 

With that being said, there are ways to avoid fast fashion while remaining up-to-date with the latest fashion trends. As British designer Vivienne Westwood would say, “buy less, choose well, make it last.” Essentially, you can buy statement clothing pieces that are likely to always be in style, and you can use them to create stylish outfits. Purchasing higher-quality clothing will benefit you in the long run. I recommend you do what I do — save outfit inspiration from social media, and look for it in brands that are eco-friendly, affordable and sustainable. 

Hello everyone! My name is Katherine. I am a fourth-year student at the University of California, Irvine majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and a minor in Sociology. I aspire to have a prosperous marketing career within the fashion, music, or entertainment industry. I love fashion, trying new foods, and going to new places. My pastimes include going on adventurers, playing the piano, and enjoying nature.
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