Why it needs to change.
Let’s dive into the past, present, and future of fast fashion!
What is Fast Fashion?
Before the Industrial Revolution, clothing was made by hand and was relatively expensive. People were careful with their purchases and held onto their garments for long periods of time.
With the invention of the Power Loom in 1787, the weaving process became mechanized thus opening the way for mass-production factories to take over the textile industry. From this point on, clothing became cheaper to make, more affordable to buy, and more disposable at heart.
Fast forward to our current era where it’s cheaper to throw something out than repair it. We’re living in a world where millions of garments are trashed without ever being sold. How is this even possible?
Simply put, the traditional fashion system is officially broken, and the straw that broke the camel’s back (rather, the shirt the camel stretched and tossed before she wore it out) is fast fashion.
What does fast fashion mean?
What fast fashion means is inexpensive clothing that’s produced and sold rapidly. These items are generally sold by mass-market retailers in order to keep up with the newest trends. They are made from cheap materials, are worn a few times, then are tossed and forgotten.
To some, fast fashion is bliss. It allows the average consumer to buy popular clothing styles at affordable prices. People can see their favorite Celebrity in a magazine, then purchase the same outfit the very same day. Not such a bad concept, so why has it acquired such a bad name?
Why is fast fashion bad?
Now that we know fast fashion is simply clothing that’s made to be worn only a handful of times, why is it bad? Aren’t we creative human beings always looking for new ways to express ourselves? Who doesn’t love an abundance of affordable options?
What fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M introduced were designer styles for those who previously couldn’t afford them. It made the masses more fashion savvy, and one could argue it helped us to explore our true colors.
But fast fashion brands design cheap clothing on purpose. When clothes lose shape and fall apart, or go out of style, it forces customers to purchase something new…again and again and again. In order to keep profits flowing, fast fashion sellers and buyers repeat this twisted cycle at a dizzying rate.
The average American now purchases over 70 items of clothing every single year. Again, not such a bad thing…until we consider the broader implications. Let’s step back and look at the facts.
Fast Fashion Waste
Fashion industry waste is destroying our planet. Global textile production has doubled in the past 15 years making the fashion industry the second largest polluter of our natural environment (second only to oil).
Fashion’s negative manufacturing impacts include polluted waterways, toxified air, exhausted resources and unusable land. While much of our planet is running out of clean drinking water, over 7 trillion litres of water are consumed on an annual basis in order to meet global textile demands. The fashion industry now accounts for 20-35% of microplastic flows into the ocean while solvents and dyes are responsible for a fifth of industrial water pollution.
The disposal of old products is just as costly to the environment as the manufacturing of new ones. The average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing a year. These habits are leading to the collapse of our ecosystem and this problem will get worse as the world’s population swells to eight billion and beyond. Mountains of textile landfills are already leaking hazardous chemicals into our streams, rivers and oceans. If things don’t change, in less than 10 years traditional fashion companies simply won’t be unable to produce new clothing the same way they used to.
In addition to textile waste and the degradation of our ecosystems, fast fashion demands that clothes are produced using cheap labor. This means outdated labor practices in countries that have few, if any protections for workers.
Of course, all this is changing as supply chain transparency unfolds and fair labor practices are being integrated into all aspects of the supply chain. Change for the better is taking place, so what can we do to contribute to the cause?
Fast Fashion Solutions
Worry not, for the light shall overcome. Slow fashion is on the rise and a global Fashion Revolution is underway.
New solutions to fast fashion are popping up all over the planet as a new crop of progressive, action oriented brands are transforming the industry. Even the much maligned fast fashion juggernauts are teaming up with environmentally conscious leaders to create a less wasteful Circular Fashion system.
Upcycling is one the most widely accepted solutions to address climate change on a grand beautiful scale which is exactly why we created DivaBitch Couture. Our mission is to reduce waste and eliminate pollution by turning existing clothing overstocks into couture Fashions for the Future.
For anyone looking to support slow fashion and the sustainable Fashion Revolution, kudos to you. It’s hard to refuse a $5 T-shirt, until you truly value your home.
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