What is Fast Fashion?
A simple definition of fast fashion is that it is cheap, catwalk-inspired, mass-produced clothing that hugely negatively impacts the environment. This is due to the factory emissions and the wastage it causes. The disposable garments appeal to shoppers because they are budget-friendly and on-trend, but because they are made cheaply, they only last one season and are typically thrown away after a short period. After they are discarded by the owner, a lot of the fast fashion clothing ends up in landfills.
In addition to the environmental issues, fast fashion clothing is typically frowned upon due to ethical concerns. This is because underpaid workers often make garments in poor conditions. They tend to work excessively long hours for very little money and are exposed to harmful chemicals and toxins used in the textiles’ production.
When Did Fast Fashion First Appear?
Shopping for clothes used to be an occasional event. If you think back to the ‘90s, for example, clothes shopping typically happened two to three times a year when the seasons changed or when we had outgrown or worn out our clothes. Once we entered the 90’s, clothing suddenly became cheaper, there were more trend cycles and going to shopping centers to buy new outfits became a popular hobby. We also entered the world of online shopping, where popular high-end stores took the looks and design features from top fashion houses and reproduced them quickly and cheaply. Almost everyone could now shop for on-trend clothes at the simple click of a button.
Characteristics of Fast Fashion Brands
Not sure if the label you like is a fast fashion fiend? Check out these key factors common to fast fashion brands:
- The shop or online shop has many styles, all touching on the latest trends seen on the catwalks from big luxury fashion houses. Some designs may even be direct copies of certain trending items.
- There is a very short turnaround time between a trend emerging and the corresponding fast fashion garments landing on the shelves or website.
- The company uses off-shore manufacturing for cheap labor. There are complex supply chains with poor visibility beyond the C-suite.
- Limited quantities of a particular trendy garment. When fast fashion labels have new stock arriving almost every day, shoppers get to know that if they see something they like, they must buy it quickly before it is gone.
- Cheap materials such as polyester and nylon are used, which cause clothing to degrade after washing and wearing for just a few seasons.
Why is Fast Fashion Bad?
In 2013, the fashion world had a reality check when Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza manufacturing complex collapsed and killed over 1,000 workers. This was when people started questioning fast fashion.
Fast fashion has a big impact on the planet and is highly polluting. The pressure to reduce costs and speed up production means that environmental corners are often cut. Cheap and toxic textile dyes make fast fashion one of the largest polluters of water and oxygen. Cheap textiles such as polyester are derived from fossil fuels contributing to global warming. It can also shed microfibers that add to the increasing levels of plastic in our oceans.
We hope this article makes you think twice before purchasing a cheap, mass-produced polyester suit. Investing in a custom suit with ethically sourced luxurious fabrics is far better for the planet. Here at The Tailory New York, we source our fabrics from various reputable European and Asian mills.