The Realities of Fast Fashion

13 January 2019

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had the best time ringing in the new year, whether you chose to stay in or go out partying; I can't believe we've reached the last 'teen' year!

Something I definitely want to work on this year is switching up my content, and I've been thinking of ways in which I can do this, but still in-keeping with topics I love. As a Textiles student, something that consistently crops up is the impact that fashion is having on the environment, and it always shocks me to discover the extent of the effects of the concept that is 'fast-fashion'. Of course, in no way am I any kind of expert when it comes to this subject, but it has been hugely debated as of late, so I thought I'd share some of my views on it all.


Fast-fashion is the concept of less expensive clothing being produced on mass in order to keep up with the latest trends. And while it has been hugely marketable on the high street, at the same time it has helped to cultivate a 'wear one day, throw away the next' attitude, as fashion nowadays can be so, so affordable that it is easier to do this. Nowadays, trends come and go quicker than ever before and, as trends change, most consumers have an incentive to keep up. In fact, approximately 80 billion clothing items are consumed on a yearly basis. This has meant that brands have had to adapt to the rapid changes occurring within the industry, too, in order to keep up consumer demand.

Having said this, fast-fashion has had a significantly positive impact on brands and consumers alike. The concept has generated mass sales due to increased affordability, and the convenience of being able to carry out a whole clothing shop from the comfort of the home has only added to this. In fact, approximately 80 billion clothing items are consumed on a yearly basis. The dynamic of retail has changed dramatically.

As garments are thrown away in preparation for the next trend, having been worn once to a few times over, most of what is thrown ends up on landfill sites, having lasting effects on the environment, since  much clothing has to be burnt in order to get rid of it completely.

Another aspect of fashion that is having a massive impact on the environment is the vast amount of water used in order to grow fibres. Cotton is, by far, the most favourable natural fibre, being used in so many forms of clothing. And although it is a natural fibre, growing the fibre takes many litres of water (approximately 7000 litres are used in order to make a single pair of jeans!) and this places strain on the environment. The rate at which fashion has changed has meant that cotton and other fibres like this have had to be produced at a much faster pace.

Luckily, many brands and consumers are beginning to take steps towards changing the overall approach towards this supposed 'disposable' fashion: brands such as H&M, who has started its Garment Collection Program, are causing huge shifts in the fashion industry. The Garment Collection Program involves using consumers' unwanted clothing, dropped off in recycling boxes in-store, and using the textiles to reinforce and make brand new clothing. So, as much as the brand is making positive changes, it is also encouraging the consumers themselves to contribute.

In a nutshell: what is the future for the fast-fashion industry? Mass-production and affordable prices are constantly boosting sales and are allowing consumers to be on-trend for a lower cost, which appears to be having a positive impact on the way we view each other; we are worlds away from a time when our social standing was immediately apparent by the brands we wear. On the other hand, however, what is happening behind the scenes, beyond the click of a 'place order' button, is having a lasting impact on the world we live in. Of course, throwing away a dress every now and again is not the end of the world, however what is most important is having an awareness of the impacts of cumulative disposal. In this context, education is key; education is crucial in our understanding of this subject.


As mentioned previously, this is not a case of making any major statements; it is simply my own opinion on a topic I have a major interest in! I hope you enjoyed reading my take on the issues surrounding fast-fashion, and a different kind of post! I think of this post as laying the foundations for the kind of content you can expect from me this year!

Lots of love,

Photo by Lauren Fleischmann on Unsplash 

1 comment

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