Have heard the phrase “fast fashion?” It’s a phrase that is being used more and more frequently. Think Balenciaga-inspired sock boots at $40 and “Gucci-esque” outfits for a mere $50. It’s a term used to describe contemporary fashion from the catwalk to your fingertips at a fraction of the cost. Thanks to stores such as Zara, H&M, Target, Gap, etc., fast fashion copies high-end designer looks and turns them around quickly. For instance, take the Oscars, you can obtain the same looks the celebrities wore on the red carpet within two weeks for a fraction of the cost. Just like the term fast food, there is fast fashion.
Today, we live fast paced lifestyles that didn’t necessarily exist 20-25 years ago. Some of this is due to technology and the fact that more households have both parents/partners working. People today don’t want to wait. Today’s generation wants it now. With the rise of social media and everybody wanting to look like a celebrity, fast fashion allows people that affordable edge.
Affordability means financial accessibility. Affordable versions of those lusted must-have designer pieces are available both online and in stores. As great as fast fashion sounds and is, it also poses some serious questions we need to ask ourselves. There are some serious impacts that most people are unaware of. For instance, with fast fashion comes labor exploitation and texture waste. No one is thinking about the negative effects fast fashion has. Instead, we are all gushing over how remarkably similar the garment looks to the Balmain dress Chrissy Teigen wore and how we, the consumer, can afford to buy it for only $69.99. Because we can afford to buy fast fashion at such a low price, more and more clothing is being bought. Sadly, more and more clothing is also being thrown out and dumped into landfills every year.
Now, the bigger problem here is that in order for these manufacturers to be able to keep costs down, sustainable fabrics (fabric that is made from natural fibers) are not being used but instead synthetic fabrics that never disintegrate are being used. Synthetics contribute to global warming because they release gases, such as methane, as the fabrics decompose.
Fast fashion also contributes to labor exploitation. Unlike the fashion calendar that models after the four seasons, fast fashion is producing clothes every four to six weeks. In order to make this clothing quickly and affordable, the clothing is being manufactured overseas in countries such as Cambodia and Bangladesh. Unlike the U.S., there are no labor laws protecting the employees. These workers get paid as little as 12-18 cents an hour and work in poor working conditions as well. Because the majority of the clothing is synthetic, the chemicals are giving off harmful gases that many of the laborers inhale and go on to die. Child labor is also on the rise and the hours are non-stop.
So, what can we do to make the public more conscious and thoughtful in our purchases?
Consider shopping at vintage and consignment stores. It’s a great way to recycle and find designer duds at a fraction of the cost. Save up to buy the real deal. Don’t feel tempted to buy that Valentino look-alike outfit. Find a good tailor and mend what you already have or consider repurposing. Less is more; there’s no reason to buy every fashion craze you see. If possible, shop at ethical and eco-friendly brands. Together we can help save our planet and those people in underprivileged countries being targeted to mass-produce. As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, the same goes to promoting sustainable fashion.
If you want to know more about how to become sustainable, visit my website at StyleBySoneca.com.
By Soneca Guadara
Soneca Guadara is a personal fashion stylist who makes her clients feel beautiful and confident. When Soneca is not working her magic assisting her clients, she can be found working backstage at New York Fashion Week, working on location shoots and contributing as an on-air fashion/style expert and style writer. You can follow Soneca on her Instagram (@stylebysoneca) for weekly style tips.