What is fast fashion? Think of all the newest trends and the styles that are predicted to come. When fashion trends emerge, they are often quick and suddenly there are production needs to be met. This ultimately means a sacrifice on time and quality, and also means a lot of waste. It is a way to profit quickly on what is popular at the time and has nothing to do with the longevity of the product. The “casual” claiming yet controversial brand Brandy Melville is a clothing store that is known for their “basics” including crop tops, sweaters, oversized tees, and pants. However, with their large production and turnover rate they are considered fast fashion and are an extremely popular brand to teenagers and young adults. An article from The Good Trade in 2018 talks about the environmental impacts of fast fashion as well. Big name companies sometimes use toxic dyes and chemicals to create their clothing, and when it is created to fulfill a fashion need and not for long term wear, it can lead to more waste. The article states that approximately 11 million tons of waste from clothing alone is produced by the United States annually. Though there is a stress on individual contribution, ultimately it is up to these companies to change their policies and production standards.
I personally believe that you do not solely have to buy clothing second hand to make a difference in the long run, however. Doing research and finding ethnical brands to shop from is also a better way to buy firsthand. Recently Patagonia has been praised for their work to be more sustainable. Their brand claimes to be producing recycled clothing that is made to last and they even offer a repair and reuse program. This is making sure clothes are being worn for more than a season cycle while picking out clothes that will make you feel good, not just following a popular trend. You can also make sure that your old clothing goes to thrift stores or is resold instead of throwing out old garments that are still in good condition.
Thrifting is easier than ever, with many online resellers such as Poshmark and Depop existing where you can find gently used and sometimes new items without having to leave the house. Granted, these resellers are strictly online and considering the pandemic it is good to know your sizes in different brands before shopping. Though secondhand shopping is the most efficient way to reuse clothing, I do not believe that all the blame should be shifted to the consumer when brands are the reason for the majority of waste and inefficiencies. Bringing awareness to fast fashion brands and trying to find more sustainable alternatives first can create a narrative on more ethnical clothing practices, and make you feel better about where you’re spending your money.