Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Following the latest fast fashion - what are the pros and cons?

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | |
The other day I thought about why many young women spend money on cheap clothing, and why we have a low threshold for throwing it away after a couple of months. If we're not discarding clothing, we're certainly not using it. We hit the stores like we own nothing and buy something new.

Again, and again.

The fact that people are following fashion trends is not what concerns me. But how often the fashion trends change, and how many of us adapt to this speed. 

And yes, I am referring to the fast fashion industry. So, when I say 'following fashion trends', I mean wearing the latest fast fashion. What are the pros and cons of following the latest fast fashion?
Following the latest fast fashion - what are the pros and cons - Urban outfitters cardigan
Pros and cons of following the latest fast fashion

The pros of following the latest fast fashion

We feel like new

Obviously, one of the positive things about following the latest fast fashion is that we get to renew our wardrobes and be experimental. If we are in fashion, this boosts our confidence because new and trendy clothes make us feel like new. We want to convey that we're beautiful, cool, hip, rich or all of the above.

We're raised in a society where it has become important to own things. It is assumed that what we own reflects who we are. It's about receiving recognition for our appearance, values and personality.

Read: Practical guide to ethical shopping.
Copyright: elwynn / 123RF Stock Photo

Affordable fashion

There's no doubt that fast fashion is 'people's fashion'. Most people can afford the latest fast fashion, increasing access to fashionable clothes that used to be affordable for only the rich people.

Seriously, shopping at Primark can be cheaper than shopping for groceries that day. It's sometimes difficult to believe how cheap clothing has become.

The fast fashion industry has made it possible for ordinary people with ordinary jobs to be part of something bigger, which can be a good thing since fashion should be available to anyone who wants to be a part of it.

Read: The cool, sustainable brand called Reformation. 

The cons of following the latest fast fashion

"Same, same - but different?" Not really!

A downside to following the latest fast fashion is that we pretty much look the same. Because you can get ... like, thousands of copies of one type of shirt.

We are all wearing the same type of jeans, the same type of jacket, the same type of bag and so on. You know where this is going. Take a minute to observe this when you're in the high street, shopping for clothes.

You'll be astonished.

I believe that following the latest fashion masks our personalities, which is a paradox considering we want to be recognized for who we are based on what we're wearing.

The awakening of fashion bloggers who indirectly promote fast fashion through thousands (maybe millions?) of 'ootd' photos every day, has contributed to the increasing interest for the latest fashion. Many fashion bloggers act like a catalyst for the fast fashion industry, prompting followers to purchase a particular product.

Instagram - Eco in the City

It might sound like I dislike fashion bloggers, but don't get me wrong. I love a good fashion blogger.

Street style bloggers as an example, give us inspiration on how to wear our clothes, which frankly, is a lot more inspiring. You know, new ways of tucking in your shirt, how to wear a scarf and so on.

Read: Fashion Revolution - who made my clothes?

"What happened to the seasons?"

A long time ago we had mainly two fashion seasons; spring and summer, autumn and winter. This might still be the case for the slow fashion designers, but with fast fashion that dominates the industry today, you can expect new trends almost every week.1
Re-using clothes that were bought years ago
Re-using clothing that were bought
years ago

Zara for instance, features over 10,000 new designs every year, while TopShop drops new products every day.2

There's no doubt that following the latest fashion is unsustainable for the environment, and ultimately our future generations when we've run out of natural resources. In fact, the textile industry is one of the largest polluters in the world.

Not only are the trends changing rapidly, but the energy-intensive production of clothing is hurting our planet, affecting the air we breathe and the water we should we drinking. Manufacturing clothes made from conventional cotton that requires huge amounts of water, is dangerously unsustainable, especially for developing countries that already struggle with clean water.

Lastly, because fast fashion is in such a hurry, you can never expect high-quality in the products. According to Forbes, it takes Zara as little as 10-15 days to go from design stage to the sales floor.3

Following the latest fashion can also be unethical because people who make our clothes in developing countries are put under a lot of pressure to produce more.

Sadly, it has become a habit of cutting corners to manufacture enough clothing in many factories. The ones who really pay the price - are the farmers and the factory workers.

Continue to read:
Read: 5 questions you need to ask yourself before considering going shopping

Read: A practical guide on how to stop shopping for clothing (for a while at least)

  • 1 Huffingtonpost: "5 Truths that Fast Fashion Industry Doesn't Want You to Know"
  • 2 Business of Fashion: "Do Fashion Trend Still Exist?"
  • 3 Forbes: "The future of fashion retailing: The Zara Approach"

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