How many times do you remember yourself having a gaze of frustration in front of an “over-crowded” closet and at the same time you were thinking “I have nothing to wear”? While other times you might get intrigued by the new seasonal window displays on the highstreet, even if your last purchase took place a few weeks ago? What is that driving force, which pushes you maybe to buy again something that you may really not need? The answer is simple. We all have been trained to acknowledge fictitious needs and some of us have been anointed as faithful followers of “fast fashion”. What is “Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion retailer...”? Well, in an attempt to explain it in the simplest words “fast fashion” is a very effective marketing tool for increasing sales!
“Fast fashion” is used by clothing retailers to keep on renewing their collections on a constant basis (more frequently even from the familiar “Spring-Summer / Autumn-Winter” periods) with loads of injections into their ranges, in order to be current, to be fashionable and to dress according to the new fashion trends and enrich constantly our options. In conjunction to the low prices of products, which usually hide dark aspects in the production processes and via a continuous direct and indirect advertising, they throw some “cheese” on the consumer and they build up on the customers’ perceptions triggering desire!
The concept of “fast fashion” made its first appearance in the 80’s in the US and since then, it is on a constant growth rate raising fashion industry’s profits significantly.
The moto is “new, fast and cheap”!
Americans for example, according to research data published in April 2016 in the website of Greenpeace, consume 3 times more than their ancestors 50 years ago and they buy twice as much clothing as to the quantity compared with the one 20 years ago. In 1991, the average American bought 34 items of clothing per year and by 2007 they bought 67!
In a similar study at the University of Cambridge, it was stated that in 2006, American consumers bought three times more clothing than in 2002, while the female population has four times more clothes in their wardrobe than in 1980.
Companies under the fierce competition for vast market shares, renew rapidly their collections at low costs, which allow them to enjoy huge profits!
The vicious circle of this eternal consumption, in which more or less almost all of us participate, has many more implications than you could maybe imagine. At its first reading you may think that “no one apart from us that we need to sort out our over crowed closet of cheap clothes is actually hurt”! Unfortunately that is not true! Beyond the relative “brainwashing” that we have gone through regarding our needs, repeatedly we shut our eyes against multifaceted negative impacts of overconsumption in an environmental, social and economic level. It’s like when something is always there, it stops being seen.
Summing it up, the huge clothing consumption in both fast and ‘unorthodox’ ways, exacerbates the environmental problem, in terms of harmful cultivation processes of raw materials / of production / of construction / of transportation etc. as well as in the accumulation of huge clothing volumes at dumps (which in most cases require many years to decompose and during that time they release heavy pollutants), leaving a huge carbon footprint on the planet!
For example, the environmental burden on the fiber production depends on whether the product is natural or synthetic. Synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, polyacryl and polyurethane harm the environment because of the vast amounts of energy they require during their manufacturing circle and also their toxic impact. In the cultivation circle of natural fibers on the other hand, such as cotton, Hemp or Industrial Hemp are high-growing varieties of the Ca... etc. we also meet large quantities of pesticides and fertilizers, which have a huge impact on the ground and on the general water quality, as most of these chemicals are toxic, extremely strong and lasting, as well as bio-accumulative.
It is significant that 25% of pesticides used worldwide are consumed in the cultivation of cotton, although cotton occupies only 3% of the total world crop. Only 10% of those pesticides are actually absorbed by cotton, while the remaining 90% is lost in waters on the surface and the environment.
At the same time, workers in the factories of large companies in the Western world –who are usually working in appalling conditions anyway- increase their daily shifts up to14-15 hours per day (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, China and other “made in” labels derive usually from such working conditions). The mental and financial costs resulting from the formation of the society around this kind of overconsumption mentality, which is built around the “appearances “only, are enormous.
And I ask myself, why do modern consumers, like me, you, our friends, turn a blind eye by continuing to preserve such a consumerist model sacrificing quality of life? Why to plunder nature, people and even plundering the final consumers –who are lured by ignorance and they are “delighted” for their choices?
Shall we just attempt to proceed with a meaningful evaluation of “fast fashion” and to take a step -even as consumers- towards a different, a more responsible, and more fair and moral “sustainable fashion”?