Fast fashion is at its prime of environmental damage, what are the reasons for this industry crisis? What are the ways that social media influences have impacted this, and what are some ways that we can stop this?
Why is fast fashion glamorised?
Fast Fashion is often overlooked due to its low prices; it provides consumers with the option to consistently buy from similar brands for an extended period of time. The scale of its impact, with millions of garments tossed into landfills every year, is staggering, and it hasn’t been put to a stop. Who is to blame for this? And when does it all come to an end? According to Keep Britain Tidy, 10,000 items of clothing are being sent to the landfill every five minutes, equivalent to £140 million in value every year.
Consumers are often blinded by mega-sales and trendy (according to massive marketing campaigns) garments, which leads to the overconsumption and short lifespan of garments. It is usually valuable to consider: are cheap labour, unsafe working conditions, and our clothes' long-distance transportation worth the momentary trend?
According to Una Glenon who discussed consumer awareness and fast fashion, many young women and girls, specifically in the age bracket of 18-24, are easily influenced and persuaded through advertisements and campaigns, mainly because they are students, and hence, often make low to zero income.
As a result of the generational loop into a social media identification persona, this has come to shape the way women see themselves. Why do I mention this? Fast fashion has a lot to do with social media and influencers who promote clothing items to those of that demographic to buy from a specific brand.
The glamorization of fast fashion has been often attached to the rise of Instagram influencers with large followers who often sponsor products. This captivates consumers due to the wide social influence that people have. This strategy attracts many and leads to the consistent creation of trends.
How has fast fashion grown?
Hauls have risen rapidly in the last two years, thanks to social media platforms like Tiktok, where many young girls buy a huge amount of clothing merely to display for a video. The overconsumption of garments has taken over the fashion industry, with many not realising how problematic it is. Overconsumption in fast fashion has its downfalls; a lot of these consumers prefer quantity over quality, which has created a divide in many types of fashion production. According to Sara Idacavage, the origins of fast fashion can be traced back to the 1960s, when “young people embraced cheaply made clothing to follow these new trends and reject the sartorial traditions of older generations.” Fashion brands had to find ways to keep up with this increase in demand for affordable clothing, “leading to massive textile mills opening across the developing world, which allowed the U.S. and European companies to save millions of dollars by outsourcing their labor.”
What are some ways to encourage young people to start living a sustainable life?
Having an ethical and sustainable wardrobe is overwhelming, but it is pretty achievable; all that is needed is some direction on one's affordability and preferences. Sustainability does limit your options in terms of brands and trends, but your sense of style remains open to a wide range of options. It takes a minimal shift and is more environmentally friendly, and while it costs a little more, it is long-lasting and, in a way, an investment for your wardrobe and an opportunity to have a one-of-a-kind piece.
The best way to have a sustainable wardrobe is to use what you already have. There are no old clothes when your pieces are well looked after, and you’ll always find something that you could pair up with numerous outfits.
Steps to eliminate the glamorisation of fast fashion:
In the same way, fast-fashion brands use social media to expand their reach; it is only fitting to spread awareness through social media platforms. Raising awareness is effective communication where it should give the desired outcome of engagement, interaction and exposure.
2. Borrow, exchange or sell your clothes
Team up with your family and peers, and see if you take any likeability of one’s clothes. Swapping, thrifting and borrowing leads to the massive reduction in garment waste, while it encourages a circular economy. More sustainable alternatives are buying second hand clothes and products, which has been calculated to have saved 20,7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 (Schibsted and Adevinta).