What do you know about fast fashion?
According to the Associated Press, fast fashion is “an approach to the design, creation and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.”
“I don’t know much, but I know there are different stores, like Forever21, that sell many clothes shortly after a trend comes out,” said junior Shannon Tangel.
According to Good On You, a website that rates ethicality and sustainability in fashion brands, “The idea is to get the newest styles on the market as fast as possible, so shoppers can snap them up while they are still popular, and then discard them after a few wears. It forms a key part of overproduction and consumption that has made fashion one of the largest polluters in the world.”
In addition to overproduction and consumption amongst consumers, the clothing companies that are involved in this process have been called into question over their use of cheap labor.
“One of the ethical issues of fast fashion is the cheap labor,” said Tangel. “I don’t think it’s right. The conditions are terribly unsafe for workers. They are breaking basic human rights.”
According to the New York Times, “In investigations conducted from 2016 through , the [United States Labor Department] discovered Fashion Nova clothing owed $3.8 million in back wages to hundreds of workers. Those factories paid their sewers as little as $2.77 an hour.”
In the same article, Fashion Nova sewer Mercedes Cortez said, “There were cockroaches. There were rats. The conditions weren’t good.”
Many environmentally-conscious consumers have raised concerns about fast fashion because the textiles used to make these clothes are often difficult to structurally break down once discarded.
According to BBC, “The fashion industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in 2017, 10.2m tonnes of textiles ended up in landfills while another 2.9m tonnes were incinerated.”
Some Sacred Heart University students have pointed toward social media as the reason behind the popularity of fast fashion.
“I believe that fast fashion has become so popular from social media apps like Instagram and TikTok, due to the recent growth of influencer culture in the past few years,” said sophomore Sophia DeAngelis. “Influencers are meant to promote certain brands and stylistic choices, but many individuals seek a cheaper way to achieve this goal, which has led to the propagation of fast fashion.”
According to Forbes, “Influencer marketing is effective because it capitalizes on our most natural tendencies, emotions and desires. When we dive into the psychological details, we find that natural emotions, fear of missing out, care and relationship-building play out digitally.”
Although social media trends are a popular way to participate in fashion, many Sacred Heart students have been using their own creativity to find their personal sustainable styles.
“I have recently started to upcycle clothes, which is super fun and also makes use of the clothes I don’t use,” said senior Fashion Club President Katerina Ringes. “I also pass them down to other family members to make sure they’re still being worn.”
In recent years, it has been often publicized on social media and in fashion magazines that anyone can ethically participate in fashion by being more mindful of the choices they make when buying and consuming.
“I think that people can do their own research on brands and ensure they are socially responsible,” said DeAngelis. “Once you make a purchase, it’s important to recognize the value in clothes and find your way of being sustainable.”