Just because I saw Kylie Jenner wear this cute shirt doesn’t mean I have to have it. But actually, it kind of does because all it takes is five clicks, my credit card number and some free shipping for me to look like some trendy influencer in a matter of days. That’s the world of fast fashion.
The term fast fashion means trendy clothes that have been produced quickly after seeing the same trend on a model for a higher-end brand as soon as a few days prior. Some examples of fast fashion stores are H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Missguided, Fashion Nova and Pretty Little Things.
In February, Kim Kardashian West called out Fashion Nova on Twitter. She wore a vintage Thierry Mugler dress over a weekend, and by the time Monday rolled around, a knock off version of the dress was already on the website available for pre-order. She called out the website in a tweet sent out on Feb. 19 that said, “It’s devastating to see these fashion companies rip off designs that have taken the blood, sweat and tears of true designers who have put their all into their own original ideas.” Less than a few days after she sent out that tweet, Business Insider reported that she is suing Missguided for $10 million for duplicating her image and style.
A lot of these fast fashion brands expect their product to get out on the floor quickly, which means it may have to be made quickly by labor and cheap products. A lot of it isn’t environmentally friendly and probably not ethically produced either. It is cheap product made from cheap material from cheap labor. How can we stop this?
There is something called sustainable fashion, meaning everything that has to do with the product is ethically, socially and environmentally friendly. According to the Green Strategy, a consultant firm specializing in sustainability, there are seven forms of sustainable fashion: on demand/custom made, green & clean, high quality & timeless design, fair & ethical, upcycle, loan & swap, and secondhand & vintage.
I’ll admit that I have bought things from these fast fashion sites. Honestly, half of my wardrobe is probably fast fashion and I feel guilty, but I can’t stop buying it.
For me, it all boils down to FOMO, or fear of missing out, a trend that has swept up Millennials and Gen Z’s. I love fashion, and I think it’s an awesome way to express yourself, but as a broke college student, I don’t have $200 to drop on T-shirt. I always want to be up on the trends.
I know I’m a part of the problem, and I hate it. The reason why these brands are getting away with it and why they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon is because people keep buying it. If there is a demand, there’ll be a supply.
But there are many awesome sustainable brands out there. An article by The Good Trade, a lifestyle brand that supports everything sustainable, lists Outdoor Voices, Patagonia, Everlane, Reformation and so many more as brands to look for. While a lot of these companies have great work environments, products/material and employee benefits, it comes with a hefty price tag. But I do understand the pricing. In order to make good products, they need to splurge a little on material. In order to make sure their employees are happy and healthy, they need to sell their products at a certain price to get profit.
The brand Reformation is particularly transparent in their sustainability efforts. You can actually request a tour of its factory and see the clothes being made right in front of you. Its website has resources about sustainability, the impact of fashion and highlight videos of its employees.
Where does that leave us, the consumers? What can we do? First off and probably the most obvious, we can stop buying from these fast fashion sites, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Starting small, you can always buy secondhand from places like the Salvation Army, Goodwill or even local vintage boutiques. This is essentially recycling, and it may not seem like much, but a little can go a long way. I think one of the bigger things we can do is buy from these sustainable brands. Yes, they’re expensive, but they are amazing quality, so it is going to last you a long time. By buying these brands, you can support a great company with employees who enjoy their jobs. A lot of these brands make timeless pieces of clothing that will not go out of style, hence, not buying clothes every season as a new trend evolves.
As my first step, I’m going to go delete my cart full of clothes I have on Pretty Little Things and shop the sale section at Everlane.