“Fast Fashion” started as a 1990s corporation trend of cheap, trendy, and poorly made clothing and has now become the third largest contributor to pollution.
“Fast Fashion” brands such as Zara, H&M, Shein, Romwe, Forever 21, GAP, and Nike produce trendy, cheap items and are then contributing to single-wear mentality. This is the idea that items should only be worn once and not repeated, which leads to the purchasing of more items.
While it might appear as though customers are getting the most out of their purchases with cheap prices and an abundance of items, there is more behind it.
When purchasing from “Fast Fashion” companies, a customer can get stuck in a cycle of buying items that are trendy and cheap, which over time can have a negative impact on the amount of money spent for what they receive.
The websites “State of Matter Apparel” and “Earth Day” both state that most “Fast Fashion” items are made out of synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon are derived from fossil fuels and are non-biodegradable while also releasing harmful chemicals into the environment.
Aside from the long-term waste of synthetic fibers used to make clothing for “Fast Fashion,” these fabrics also do not provide good quality for the customer.
The fabrics used to make the clothing items from places like “Shein” do not last long. An article from “The Clothing Coach” stated that synthetic fabrics rarely last longer than a few wears, which puts the consumer in a constant cycle of purchasing new items and contributing to landfills.
These chemicals in the synthetic fibers, such as formaldehyde and dioxane, are designed to not break down easily. According to “Impakter” and “The American Cancer Society,” these chemicals are also cancerous.
Workers are then exposed to the toxic chemicals in these clothing items every day and the dyes used in the clothing items for little to no pay. “Earth.org” stated that workers in the garment industry are required to put in 14 to 16 hours daily and endure verbal and even physical abuse from managers.
Not only are there unfair hours, but child labor is common among these popular “Fast Fashion” brands so they can keep the costs low while producing more.
Fashion Design teacher, Amie Shea, said, “[Fast fashion] is very deceptive. I don’t think people realize what their purchases endorse, especially in the United States where it is a common practice to buy items without realizing what the actual cost of it is.” The majority of these items purchased from cheap online fashion stores and malls are making their profits from unfair wages and forced labor, Shea said.
Out of around 100 billion clothing garments that are produced each year, 92 million tons end up in landfills. “BBC” said that producing these items uses large amounts of natural resources as well as releasing greenhouse gases, which are responsible for climate change.
“Fast Fashion” is one of the leading causes of global warming. People purchase items that won’t last and companies are continuing to exploit workers for these items. Rather than purchase them and support brands that provide harmful working conditions and unfair hours and wages, Shea said people should either buy from thrift stores or invest in clothing that will actually last.
Shea stressed the importance of realizing what your purchases are contributing to. She said that the unfair labor practices and harmful chemicals used are not worth the purchases people make from Shein and other companies.
Just because it’s cheap and cute doesn’t mean it’s worth it.