Can you recall how many times you usually buy new clothes in a year? How much do you pay for those garments? How many pieces that you actually wear? Is there any of them that ends up being stacked and untouched in your wardrobe? Some of you might’ve been able to immediately visualize the answer to all those questions. Whether or not you’re feeling guilt-tripped reading this, views in regards to fashion will never be out of date as time progresses. So now, let’s go along with a deeper understanding and encircling the fashion industry, how much it has changed and how did we end up being overpowered by the current unavoidable capital movement–fast fashion.
Who would’ve thought that fast fashion was started from a tiny spark of idea prompting disposable paper clothes–specifically, dresses made of papers and rayon scrim–which people can straightly tear off right after using them. And so it began, with immense profit and demand rioted, America had finally found their own way to compete with the French in terms of fashion trends. However, the 60’s Pop Art wave was also heavily associated with higher consumption and overproduction of clothing besides its youth-centric liberation movement in style. Since then, fast fashion thrives through many decades later up until now with higher demand and attempts to keep textile product supply piling up.
Why bother spending money on something pricey when there are many cheaper options being offered? That’s reasonable. It is very natural that people have this common calculation logic over their own management of needs. But, that’s not always the case. You might find some brands setting their garments more affordable, but most of the time, they’re often very irrationally underpriced, also comparably low in quality. By being low in quality, it means that the durability of such clothing is relatively poor. In other words, they are designed to get replaced not too long after usage.
You might also wonder, how is it possible for fast fashion companies to set low prices and manage to get profit out of it? Needless to say, there are many sly tricks used in their strategy to press down production expenses and earn as much as they can. As you might have noticed, most of the renowned fashion companies set their factories somewhere in countries with middle or lower-income, such as China, Bangladesh, India, etc. While they are able to cut off production costs by hiring low-paid laborers, these countries also provide more accessible natural resources at lesser prices. Moreover, mass-producing plenty of garments at a time can also save up more budget to be distributed and sold. In many cases, this strategy allows space for overexploitation both over natural and human resources.
As much as it’s very tempting to seek the newest fashion trend every month, you might want to rethink if it’s conventional that brands encourage people to keep their eyes on more than 10 clothing seasons they promote in a year. Labeling these series of new clothing with promotional market pricing tricks, who do you think they are targeting?
Well, it is sad to say that people of middle-low economic status might be these brands’ most loyal consumers. Seeing how brands like H&M and Zara are very well accepted among developing countries other than where they’re coming from, it seems clear that cheap fast fashion-centric brands provide more affordable deals than luxury brands, with competitively similar trendy styles.
The outline of harmful production could’ve been something that common enough for people to know, but unfortunately, many haven’t paid enough attention to it, even acting out ignorance. Issues regarding mass textile production and disposal were reported over and over ever since the rising of fast fashion trends back then, yet it seems like there hasn’t been any silver lining on the view.
First, unpaid workers are forced to pay the number of sales you’ve been hunting for. Aside from being treated unfairly, low appraisal, and poor working environment, the laborers are at high risk of being exposed to harmful side products of the manufacturing process.
The manufacturing process of synthetic clothing itself has been found hazardous, both for the environment and also people involved in the production. Particles of dust, carbon dioxide emissions, and toxic textile colorants often harm factory surroundings, tarnishing water and soil, dispersing in the air, making it unliveable for the living ecosystem around it. This wouldn’t have happened if the factories lived up to the standard of safety and ethical producing system.
Yet, things are getting out of hand now that living lands and green space have become a space for piled-up textile waste. And presumably, disposals will eat up much more space if no interventions are taken to push down the backwash.
So what’s the best way to move toward a more sustainable fashion trend?
Let’s not get easily confused with ‘eco-friendly fashion’ labels these days, as many of them are found not exactly dismissing the old unhealthy producing habit. What needs to be pointed out is that promoting everything in a greener manner countless times isn’t the same as being environmentally friendlier. Instead, this fake ‘greenwashing’ movement actually does nothing justifiable to the environment aside from tricking consumers to buy more products. At the end of the day, it’s all about money.
However, there aren’t too few brands that actually care to put more effort into developing a more sustainable clothing production. For example, the use of natural fiber made of bamboo, certain proteins, and more creatively, recycled plastic waste are found effective in reducing the harmful disposals as well as keeping non-recyclable materials out of the risk of being thrown carelessly. However, it takes up more price during the process of making these sustainable clothing, so you might find a slightly higher budget than usual synthetic clothes pricing. But, with many to consider, spending more on something that can assure a better lifestyle for you and others, is worth the price.
Another way to start a more sustainable living is to reuse your old clothes and thrift when you feel like you need something new. These days, thrift shops can be found in many places, both in physical stores and online shopping platforms and they’re currently in quite high demand as people start to seek cheaper prices compared to the market prices.
In the end, the well-known principle ‘less is more’ is still very relevant. There’s nothing wrong with reusing your old favorite piece of clothing multiple times, no matter how many times your friend teases you about it.
“The most sustainable garment is the one already in your wardrobe.” – Orsola de Castro