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Do You Know Who Made Your Clothes? (And Why You Should)

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

In today’s world of catwalk to sales rack and new trends barreling in your Pinterest

feed like a category 5 hurricane, it can be hard to keep track of what is fast fashion

and what isn’t. So, I’ll tell you—Fast fashion is the term used to describe a highly-profitable

business model which duplicates runway pieces and reproduces them in a very short amount of

time, for a record low price. Examples of brands like this are Forever 21, Zara, and H&M; all

popular clothing brands for the average American.


Why exactly is fast fashion a bad thing? The ability to buy cheap and trendy clothing sounds like

a dream come true to most people. The issue with fast fashion is that in order for these brands

to sell for at the low prices that they do, they have to cut down on the cost of production. This

usually comes in the form of cheap materials as well as inexpensive labor. Forced labor is

common in countries other than the United States, making it commonplace for these brands to

export their designs to other nations, further increasing their profit margin. This forced labor

usually entails young children working in factories with dangerous conditions and extremely long

hours. Although we are able to get these clothing items at a lowered price, it comes at the cost

of these people affected by these hazardous conditions.


Another cause of concern with the business of fast fashion is its effect on the environment.

Factories that partake in the production of fast fashion generally emit toxic greenhouse

gases and use enormous amounts of water along with other finite energy sources, worsening the

quality of our environment. In December of 2013, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH)

found traces of lead in products from clothing brands such as Wet Seal and Charlotte Russe.

Lead poisoning can lead to brain damage, fertility problems, and kidney damage which is

terrible not only for the customer but the environment as well. The combination of human rights

violations and increased environmental ruin should be enough to convince any person to

abandon the practice of fast fashion.


Here are some questions you can ask yourself when trying to figure out if an item is fast fashion

or not:

● Do the clothes feel/appear to be of poor quality?

● Was the design recently seen on the runway?

● Is the item being sold for a suspiciously low price?

● Does it feel like a steal that’s too good to be true?

● Are there multiple variations of the same product being sold in the store and other

stores like it?


If you answered yes to any of these questions there is a strong possibility the item you’re

holding is a product of fast fashion. Hopefully these quick tips will help prevent you from buying

from fast fashion as much as possible. As always, the only way to be absolutely certain you

aren’t buying something fishy is to thrift or buy from a reputable, sustainable brand!




Anna Grady


Anna is a freshman English major at University of South Florida St. Pete. She's passionate about fashion and feminism! She loves spending time writing and watching movies.