Fast Fashion: The Dirty Truth Behind Your Favorite Brand

You’ve probably already discarded last season’s trends, but the effects of that cold-shoulder top still lingers. What we call fast fashion is basically the speed at which we buy and throw away clothes – and the repercussions of that pattern.

Fashion brands that create trendy clothes at lightning speed and are available for a relatively low cost have gained a notorious reputation. They exploit the environment, exploit daily wage earners from third world countries (like India) and also exploit our need to have lots of pretty things for cheap!

They’ve been known to copy designs from high-end labels on low quality materials and manufacture it on a large scale. So why is this bad exactly? Fashion is democratic so why should only the rich have it?

Trust me, I get that need to look like Deepika Padukone in Cocktail – and there’s no way I’ll be able to buy even the personally owned clothes that she sometimes puts on sale at discounted rates. That movie sent me on a shopping spree like no other.

Deepika Padukone in Cocktail
My personal shopping escapades with copies of this All Saints skirt were a disaster

I still have copies of the Aztec skirt in 3 colors, that I never wear. I had to reconcile myself to the idea that I’ll probably never look like her, with or without the skirt, and buying cheap copies of designer wear actually hurts the workers who make the clothes, more than anyone else.

The more I buy into the idea of wanting to look like her, the less space there is in my closet for clothes I actually wear and will last through the different seasons and trends.

Even if you disregard the fact that copying someone else’s creative aesthetic is ethically wrong; the impact of fast fashion is seen across issues that plague humanity today.

The conditions in which these clothes are made are atrocious – imagine being paid an hourly wage of Rs. 40, and having to work for 46 hours every week, often under toxic conditions and verbal abuse.

The clothes themselves are made from materials that exhaust our planet’s limited resources. In a bid to provide fashionable clothes at reduced prices, there’s a rise in “man-made fabric” which is made of plastic – these make up about 60% of new fabrics – whether it’s nylon, polyester, acrylic or other synthetic fabrics. And to make fabrics out of plastic, the fashion industry is using up to 342 million barrels of oil each year (Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 2017).

So that ruffled top you love? It’s not only made from oil and plastic, but will take 200 years to decompose.

We’re living in a time of consumer culture – apparently more than 80 billion pieces of clothing are produced every year. And that is only feeding our need to buy the most Instagrammable outfits and never repeat them. What that means is where our grandparents were buying 2 new clothes, we buy 10.

Now I bet you’re thinking about that time you donated clothes – by giving your clothes a new life, you’re hoping in some way you’re reducing how much someone else is buying. Well, sorry to be the bearer of disappointing information: most of those clothes are ending up in a landfill, because we are officially overproducing clothes.

So now that you know, what can you do to help?

95% of discarded clothing can be upcycled. There are many ways of making cushion covers or scrunchies out of your old clothes. And if you’re not particularly crafty or a DIY type of person, may we suggest a clothes swap?

There are many ways one can contribute to the sustainable fashion movement, it’s up to us to find one that works for us.

Like Vivienne Westwood summed it up – “Buy less, choose well and make it last”. That lady is so classy!

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