Addiction to Waste: The Impact of Fast Fashion
Updated: Mar 23
The world moves at an ever more frenetic speed, and clothes retail drives customers to buy more clothes faster. The once gradual trickle of ideas from high fashion and celebrity to the high street has accelerated to flood shops and websites with the latest must-have styles, created cheaply from plastic fibres, within weeks of their first appearance.
The clothes industry keeps us buying by reducing the cost of their garments (a $19 dress costs 19c to make), and thereby changing the attitude of us all towards clothes. Whereas once value was assessed with an eye to quality and therefore longevity, both are now made unimportant as items are bought with one occasion in mind, and reach landfill in an average of seven wears, to be replaced with the next purchase.
Industrial production drives prices down by reducing durability, and as advertising encourages spending we diminish the value of quality, hand-finishing and natural fibres.
The problems caused do not stop at the environment- petrochemical extraction, microfibres, undegradeable landfill, fuel expended in transportation. Lower value clothes mean low wage employment, lowering the value of labour.
What is to be done? Clearly, the fashion industry and we its customers need to break the cycle of purchase and disposal to make clothes more inherently valued. Fast fashion is only 'fast' because of us the consumers. Instead of buying to throw away within weeks, we can assemble a smaller collection of well-made clothes, varied perhaps by exchanging clothes still in fine condition.
Well-tailored clothes that keep their shape, colours and finishing not only last longer but enrich our lives- as well as those of the people who make them- much more.