Fast fashion is a term used to describe the accelerated production and sale of a large number of clothes, shoes and accessories. Fast-fashion brands make it possible to get ultra-fashionable things for a low cost. It’s easy and cheap to be on trend. We’re lucky, but the problem is that tomorrow will be a new day and there will be a new trend. And we will buy again, becoming part of the system of mass consumption.
Where trends are born
Until the 1990s, fashion trends were set by Fashion Weeks. Design houses released two collections a year. Fashionistas learned about trends from glossy magazines, and only a small proportion could afford things from Dior, Prada or Fendi. Fashion was unaffordable. Luxury items from the collections of the seventies, eighties are still wandering in expensive secondhand shops and private collections. They are made for the ages, from quality materials and with perfect patterns. Fast fashion has radically changed the approach to trends and clothing in general. Zara and H&M release new micro collections every two weeks. That’s exactly how long the trends live now.
Social networks have replaced glossy magazines. Now designers are “dressing up” millionaire bloggers to unobtrusively sell their clothes. Not all fans of Influencers can afford luxury. But you can buy exact copies at any mass market. Fast and quite inexpensive. Quality tailoring will not be the best, the fabric – synthetic, the wearing period – up to six months. But it will be just like a celebrity. And why wear the thing longer, if in a month it will no longer be fashionable.
Not just social media
Psychologists point out that shopaholism is one of society’s problems. Often we buy to drown out loneliness, fear, anxiety. We get temporary relief from the new clothes. By buying, we experience a false sense of control over the situation and our lives. Fast-fashion brands only benefit from this. After all, how do you get past the “all for 999” sign? Some of the things you buy are left hanging in your closet, never having seen the light of day. It’s not a shame, it was cheap anyway. But if you add up all such impulse purchases in one season, you get a great cashmere sweater that you can wear for several years.
Fast fashion not only makes us spend more, it also damages the environment. And if the state of the wallet is a personal matter, we share a common planet. Environmentalists are making new accusations against the retail giants. Factories consume excessive amounts of water, dump tons of pesticides on cotton growing fields, and use toxic dyes for fabrics. Synthetic clothes discarded by consumers are incinerated, releasing clouds of acrid black smoke into the atmosphere.
Against the backdrop of an acute environmental problem, fast-fashion has counterweights – brands that consciously “slow down” fashion.
A couple of years ago the term upcycling became popular. It is the reuse of things. Clothes are sewn from pieces of out-of-fashion or unsold models. The pandemic gave impetus to this new trend in the fashion world. Closure of textile factories forced designers to look for new sources of fabrics. And it was very appropriate to use their own old collections. Upcycling trend covers the world and opens eyes to the issue of consumption.
No matter how hard the manufacturers of slow fashion try, the main thing in this chain is still the customer. As long as the demand for mass-market goods is high, tons of low-quality items will flood the planet. What can everyone do to help themselves and the environment?
- Do a closet overhaul. Once a season, take apart your closets to see if and what new items are needed. What’s been untouched for more than a year, give it to charity, recycle it, or sell it.
- Make a basic closet of clothes that go together. By yourself or with the help of a stylist. This way, you will stop impulsively buying things that don’t fit anything.
- Try to buy quality items made of natural materials or sew them to order. One wool sweater is worth five acrylics, and a pair of high-quality, well-fitting jeans can be worn for years.
It is no longer possible to trace what came first: fashionable cheap clothes or our need for them. But to break the cycle, it’s time to put fast fashion on pause.