It’s probably not a huge surprise to anyone that the modern fashion is dominated by fast-fashion, with well-known brands such as Zara, H&M, UNIQLO, etc. In this article, we will take a closer look at the fast-fashion world and more importantly, how can we as consumers help make fashion a little bit more sustainable?
What exactly is ‘fast-fashion’ anyway?
Well, it’s commonly used to describe clothing designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to meet new trends. New collections are often released regularly, following the latest designs presented at Fashion Week events. How ‘fast’ you asked? Nowadays, big brands are able to design a product and have it ready for sale in as little as a week!
Photo: Zara store in Hong Kong
What is it about ‘fast-fashion’ that makes it so popular?
Are there any good things about it? It turns out mainstream consumers love the ability to buy trendy clothing styles at affordable prices! Fast-fashion was responsible for a lot of the innovations in the fashion industry, ultimately allowing us to buy stuff at a lower price or, in economic terms, increasing our purchasing powers (which is often a good thing!).
Then why 'fast-fashion' has been under heavy criticism?
However, sometimes too much of a good thing could be bad and that’s exactly what happened to ‘fast-fashion’ which put it under heavy criticism worldwide. A key criticism is ‘fast-fashion’ encourages a “throw-away” attitude & increase consumption to an unsustainable level – since clothes are so cheap & new styles are coming out so quickly. No longer a time when there were only two fashion seasons (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter) – it’s now a ‘micro-season’ every few weeks throughout the whole year. With massive volumes comes expensive environmental cost – the vast amounts of water and chemicals utilised by ‘fast-fashion’ have cemented itself as the second ‘dirtiest’ industry in the world behind Big Oil!
Photo: Extinction Rebellion protesters rallied against fast-fashion in 2019
Many criticisms are well deserved. However, in my opinion, we as consumers also play very important roles in defining the fashion industry. Here are some facts about how we consume fashion at the moment:
- “Australian’s are the world’s second-largest consumers of fashion. On average, they consume 27kgs of new clothing and textiles every year.” – ABC
- “Millennials (people born after 1981) are twice as likely as baby boomers to toss clothing because it is unfashionable or they are bored of wearing it.” – YouGov Omnibus
- “Only 10% of the clothes people donate to thrift stores or charities get sold, the rest goes to landfill.” – 1 Million Women
- “Fast fashion garments, which we wear less than 5 times and keep for 35 days, produce over 400% more carbon emissions per item per year than garments worn 50 times and kept for a full year.” – Forbes
So, how can we as consumers help make fashion a little bit more sustainable?
The good news is we are already making good progress on this – with Millennials and Gen Z around the world pushing for a better level of transparency around sustainability and life cycle of fashion products. One can now opt for exclusively ethical & sustainable fashion brands. Even fast-fashion brands responded positively by making their product life-cycle more transparent & investing in sustainability.
Photo: a dress from sustainable fashion brand Armour Vert
On a personal level, there are simple ways that could help us consume fashion more responsively. The top advice I could give is investing in your own personal style – rather than waiting for big brands telling us what to wear, go for something you really like, something that you would wear again and again. Not all fast-fashion products are terrible – there are good quality basics that can be mixed and re-worn, even with the addition of some great vintage accessories. Going through your wardrobe once in a while is also very helpful – as many find this process not only help your fashion creativity but also teach us to “love our stuff” a little bit more. And if you are looking for a new piece, don’t go for what’s trending, go for what’s stylish 😍
Fashion is dear to our hearts – as an Australian fashion store, we are inspired by recent positive changes in the fashion world. We have been a lot more mindful in our sourcing – still from the trusted Australian wholesale suppliers, but with a greater focus on quality & wearability. Expect a lot more classic styles with a lesser focus on trends and more on styles from us in the future.💗
Anh from Koogal