Despite the environmental revolution our generation has continued to cultivate, the fast fashion industry is only growing stronger. In 2019 Misguided nearly broke the internet with their £1 bikini; described by Zoe Wood as “a symbol of a throwaway fashion culture”. Not to mention, brands today continue to create fast, affordable yet ultimately disposable products.
Online? social media platforms such as Youtube and Tiktok, where creators film hauls and lookbooks of the latest fashion trends, help to sustain a culture of cheap clothing consumption for a quick style fix. Which leads us to question whether, ultimately, these apps are a catalyst for wasteful consumption.
New companies like Shein, Zaful and Romwe have been monopolising the modern fashion industry, selling the latest in Gen-Z styles at shockingly low prices
Influencers increasingly choose to shop online instead of on the high street and often order in excess. Often showcasing huge hauls only to keep a few favoured items. Not only does this drive up transport emissions, but it encourages a fickle attitude towards fashion where trends quickly fall by the wayside, and with them, the clothes fall too. Every year in the UK alone, more? than 300,000 tonnes of used clothing ends up in landfill and 8? % of our total greenhouse gas emissions come from the textile industry. This is the devastating impact of our fast? fashion addiction.
New companies like Shein, Zaful and Romwe have been monopolising the modern fashion industry, selling the latest in Gen-Z styles at shockingly low prices. The sites offer weekly drops of fresh items, replacing the seasonal collections of traditional fashion outlets and exposing our constant need for ‘the new’.
But with low prices comes disastrous consequences; War on Want reported on ‘fashion’s victims’ and found that factory workers -majority female – suffer pay as low as £25 a month, extremely poor working conditions and are often denied basic trade union rights which would protect them from exploitation.
Recent videos on TikTok have also exposed the damage these goods pose to our planet- prodigal manufacturing methods mean cutting patterns out of huge slabs of fabric and disposing of large amounts of excess material. These products are designed to be bought and rebought, upholding the capitalist system by keeping you in a constant cycle of consumption.
Accelerating fast fashion even further, these brands have developed a business to customer model, or ‘B2C’, allowing them to cut out the conventional highstreet middle-man and sell directly to the customer, fulfilling our fashion desires with even more speed.
Despite the fact that one does not counteract the other and sustainability isn’t about perfection, fast fashion is an ever-growing concern
Companies like Shein thrive off of digital marketing from celebrity faces. The spending habits of online influencers – often alongside environmental concern in other areas – expose the performative nature of some environmental activism. We are slurping from bamboo straws yet swiping on Shein for a £5 bag.
Despite the fact that one does not counteract the other and sustainability isn’t about perfection, fast fashion is an ever-growing concern for environmentalists and an aspect of our culture which can be uprooted with a more conscious attitude to shopping.
So, what does that look like? Whether you think conscious consumption is ultimately paradoxical in a capitalist system, there are changes that can make a difference. The ‘Fashion Revolution’ group created the campaign #whomademyclothes demanding transparency from manufacturers and accountability from consumers.
Oxfam’s ‘Second Hand September’ encourages shoppers to ditch fast fashion in favour of pre-loved clothes, encouraging a slower approach to personal style. Tiktok users and contemporary fashion designers are increasingly experimenting with upcycling and creating clothing using fabric offcuts, often using peer-to-peer platforms like Depop, vinted, and ThreadUp to sell and circulate their creations.
We have an abundance of resources, there is really no need to produce more. So, reconsider where you are shopping and research the true cost of your clothing before contributing to the ‘Shein-speed-sales’.
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