I remember very well the queue in the Children’s World 30 years ago. We stood there for a very long time, and then we bought two identical jackets of different colors and sizes. At first, I wore pink and white, and when I grew up a little, I changed it to white and blue.
In the past, buying clothes was a special event and happened from one to several times a year (as luck would have it). Usually, things were bought with a margin, so that one was replaced by another. I remember 4 pairs of identical jeans “for growth” – when the old ones were completely worn out, or I grew out of them, my mother took out a new pair, and the old ones turned into shorts) I also had three pairs of identical white moccasins. Perhaps something else, but I don’t remember)
And then clothes got cheaper, the cyclical trends accelerated, and shopping turned into a hobby or even a way of psychotherapy (no). Global networks took a decisive step into the fashion industry, and the era of fast fashion began. But what is fast fashion? And how does it affect people, the planet and animals?
When a huge selection appeared in stores, we were able to freely buy fashionable clothes that can be worn several times, thrown out and bought something new to replace.
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is an industry that copies ideas from the catwalks and turns them at breakneck speed into cheap clothes that meet ever-changing consumer demand.
Such manufacturers do not care about quality, their main mission is to quickly release new collections in order to please constantly changing trends. Buyers grab things while they are at their peak and then give them up very quickly.
We are constantly being inspired by the idea that wearing the same outfit is a style mistake, that it is necessary to stay relevant – to update the image as soon as a new collection goes on sale. This marketing ploy is a key part of the toxic overproduction and overconsumption system.
A short history of fast fashion
To understand how much the mod has accelerated, we need to rewind a bit. Until the 1800s, fashion was very slow. To produce clothes, it was necessary to grow and prepare materials – shear wool from a sheep, collect and knead flax, process fur or leather, spin threads, weave fabric, and then cut and sew (by hand!) The thing.
The Industrial Revolution brought sewing machines to the world. Manufacturing has become easier, faster and cheaper. Artels appeared that made clothes and shoes. It was around this time that the first sweatshops emerged, as well as the notorious safety concerns. The first major disaster occurred in 1911 in New York, when a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, killing 146 workers, many of whom were immigrants.
By the 1970s, clothing is becoming a form of personal expression, but there is still a distinction between haute couture and street fashion.
By the late 2000s, affordable fashion had reached its zenith. Online shopping was booming, with fast-fashion retailers taking over shopping malls. These brands quickly and cheaply reproduced the designs of the best fashion houses, which was undoubtedly appreciated by the consumers. So fast fashion was born …
How to identify a fast fashion brand
Key factors that are common to fast fashion brands:
Many style directions that touch on all the latest trends.
An extremely short time between the appearance of a trend on the catwalk and the arrival of ready-made clothes on the shelves in the store.
Offshore production in countries where labor is the cheapest. Using complex supply chains and low-wage workers without ensuring adequate rights and safety.
Stimulating sales through a limited number of certain clothes and frequent changes in collections (if a buyer does not buy a thing today, tomorrow he will miss his chance).
Cheap, low-quality materials such as acrylic and polyester, poor cut and seams that cannot withstand long-term wear.
How does fast fashion affect us and the planet?
To the planet
The need to reduce costs and speed up production times means environmental issues are more likely to be ignored.
The use of cheap toxic textile dyes makes the fashion industry the second largest clean water pollutant in the world (just after agriculture).
The use of cheap textiles also increases the impact of fast fashion on nature. Polyester made from fossil fuels contributes to global warming and, when washed, emits microplastics that can pollute water.
But even “natural fabrics” can be a problem on a fast-fashion scale. The cultivation and production of cotton consume enormous amounts of water and pesticides. This places extreme pressure on water bodies and entails the risk of drought.
The constant demand is placing increased pressure on other environmental areas such as land clearance, biodiversity and soil quality. The speed at which garments are produced also means that more and more garments are recycled by consumers, creating massive textile waste.
The main impact of fast fashion on garment workers is in unfair working conditions, low wages and the health consequences of exposure to toxic chemicals.
Toxic dyes and microfibers that enter the water are absorbed by both terrestrial and marine wildlife and lead to devastating consequences for health and life along the food chain. Animal welfare is compromised by the use of fur, leather and even wool for the needs of fast fashion. Recent scandals have shown that natural fur (including dog and cat fur) is often passed off as fake fur. In the inhuman and cruel conditions of fur farms, its production is cheaper than artificial.