“Its better to have fewer things of quality than too much expendable junk” Rachel Zoe.
These words from fashion icon Rachel Zoe, resonate with fast fashion, the culprit of “expendable junk”. Given globalization and cheap labour, it has become a mainstay for big name retailers to inexpensively yet quickly produce mass inventory. Coupled with the epidemic of consumerism, the “fast fashion” movement has become synonymous with disposable fashion and textile waste.
Fast fashion is the drive-through fast food version of fashion. To be more precise, fast fashion is low-cost clothing collections based off of current, high-cost luxury fashion. Delivering its instant gratification, fast fashion has a quick turnaround to replenish stock with merchandise that is “floor ready” in only a few weeks. In its entirety, fast fashion thrives on and cultivates from a toss away culture based on disposability and endless consumerism. Due to poor quality and manufacturing, the benchmark for fast fashion companies is an expected 10 washes until an item no longer holds its original quality and subsequently falls apart. This trend seems to be giving consumers the access card to toss away, filling landfills with the old to make room for the new in our wardrobes.
This throw away mentality coupled with retail discounting and changing fashion trends may fuel the demand for fast fashion but in actuality it contributes to unsustainable practices and an extensive amount of waste. In Canada, it is estimated that 85% of recyclable clothes are being thrown out, and approximately 500 million pounds of textile waste exist in Canadian landfills. From air pollution created in factories, depletion of water resources, to the increase uses of harmful chemicals and oil, its no secret that this impact of ‘waste couture’ is harmful to the environment. In a society where ‘living green’ and ‘eco friendly’ is the new fad, how do consumers justify their commitment to poorly produced disposable fashion?
While fast fashion can mimic luxury products, it is a poor match for quality such as high ethical standards in sourcing, cost of labour, efficient use of material, and low impact manufacturing. However, to a degree in the fashion industry, we are seeing a consumer demand for more information concerning product sourcing and manufacturing. As such, it is increasingly evident that there is a greater interest for transparency between ethics of tactile practice and consumer markets. While we do see sustainable initiatives in fast fashion today, there still exists uncertainty as to whether fast fashion can genuinely shift from fashion as the latest look and discount, to the materiality of fashion.
Article written by Raylin Grace aka the Red Curl Owl with Luevo. You can follow Raylin at@raylingm