You may be familiar with the term fast food but what is fast fashion? It is what happens when corporations value monetary gain over environmental factors. This means that companies will cut corners to obtain and maintain cheap mass production.
Just like fast food, fast fashion has negative long term impacts. Although the burger and fries may taste heavenly now and relieve an immediate craving, in the long term it can lead to long lasting health issues such as diabetes and obesity. The same can be said about fast fashion.
Some of the most popular fast fashion companies are Shein, Fashion Nova, Boohoo, or Pretty Little Thing? You may think that fast fashion is reserved for cheap online stores but even some of the most reputable corporations including Zara, H&M Group, Victoria’s Secret and UNIQLO are actually giant fast fashion companies. These companies are reputable enough that you may be surprised to see them here on this list.
Have you ever bought from any of the companies mentioned above? I can honestly say that I have. Unfortunately, I gave in to the temptation of trendy and cheap summer clothing. It is easy to make impulse purchases with fast fashion because of their affordable pricing strategies. Moreover, with trends coming and going so fast, it’s easy to constantly want what’s new. The problem is when you get it at the price of unethical labor and environmental damage.
Fast fashion brands are known for their unethical and inhumane working environments. In efforts to cut costs, they will often export their manufacturing factories overseas to countries with less strict labor laws. This negatively impacts the people of those countries in the short term and long term. In the short term, they are paid unfair wages to work inhumane hours in a factory with unsafe conditions. Some brands have even been called out by the media once clothing tags were found stitched with messages such as “help us”, and “save me”. In the long term, factories such as this keep the nations from developing and causes a larger economic gap between developed and less developed countries. This reinforces the poor living and working conditions of the nation and prevents children and women from receiving education or equal opportunities that could lead to the nation’s overall GDP growth.
In addition to unethical labor, fast fashion is known to be the second biggest industry polluting clean water. Because fast fashion is meant to be trendy, it is also implied that it is easily disposable. The worst part is that we throw away so much of our fast fashion purchases that 70% of them end up in landfills each year. This increase in consumption does not benefit anyone except the conglomerates and is the cause of extreme levels of material waste.