The emergence of the fast fashion industry has not only caused an impact on most peoples bank accounts but also on the economy of the third world countries that supply this industry and on the environment as a whole.
Back in the 1950s and before there were a maximum of 4 seasons in the fashion calendar, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, or sometimes only two seasons, Winter and Summer (dress for the cold and dress for the warm). Now with the advent of fast fashion we have on average 52 seasons a year, this constant creation and movement of new clothes requires the growth of more materials, the use of more chemicals and results in more waste.
Most fast fashion companies outsource their production to members of third world countries because they know that they can pay them less and exploit lax health and safety laws, whilst touting about how they are helping these countries and their employees because ‘this way they have a job and are earning money’. Never mind that this money may not be enough to feed their family, or that their employees risk death and illness in these factories.
As well as causing a negative impact on the world environment, fast fashion also has an impact on our wallets. Whilst most high street shops offer their clothes for a good price, this quick change in stock often results in people buying more clothes than they need, often clothes that they will only wear once. There have also been reports of big name companies taking overstock and slicing it with packaging knives so that it cannot be resold or donated once new stock comes in, thus driving more sales.
So what to do?
Try shopping only when you know that you need something. I never window shop and only go into town when i’m looking for something in particular, this helps me to save money which then means that I can afford to buy something that I really want that is usually of higher quality and will therefore last longer. Also, moving my thinking from ‘I want that’ to ‘do I need that?’ has reduced the effect that advertising has on me. Instead of being sold on the lifestyle that these companies are claiming to provide, I now see adverts for what they are, a company trying to get my money by making me feel inferior.
Shop in charity shops. Whilst they may not always have what you want charity shops are a great place to find a bargain and you may stumble across a hidden gem. I’d been wanting a leather style jacket for ages but didn’t want to buy one from the high street, then whilst I was looking for a scarf in my local charity shop I stumbled upon a second hand leather jacket for £6! The other upside to supporting charity shops, other than the obvious, is that by buying at charity shops I can reduce the amount of things thrown away and I can extend a clothing’s lifespan.
Try making some stuff for yourself. Now this isn’t going to be for everyone, I enjoy sewing and making things so the prospect of making an outfit for myself is quite exciting, for some of you that is probably not your idea of fun and that’s okay. Dressmakers and tailors are still around and will make something for you that fits perfectly and will last longer than the cheap mass produced items.
For more information about the fast fashion world and the impact it has on the environment, third world countries and your own pocket then I highly recommend watching ‘The True Price’ on Netflix, it goes much more in-depth into the impact the fashion industry has and ways in which you can help combat it.