Fast fashion

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Fast fashion describes clothing created with low-quality materials by underpaid / unpaid garment workers in largely unsafe working conditions that are often sold at cheap prices; the vicious cycle of overproduction, waste, overconsumption in the fashion industry; an approach to designing, creating, and mass producing fashion items based on microtrends. -Remake Our World , adapted by Michelle Xie [1]

Before the 1800s, clothing production relied on local artisans and craftsmen. Sourcing materials was expensive, and production relied on knowledge and time not many people had. The Industrial Revolution introduced sewing machines, computer drawings, and artificial textiles, making the production of clothes easier, quicker and less expensive. Fast fashion brands mass-reproduce clothes quickly and at a low-cost, following the trends of high-fashion luxury brands.

Examples of Fast Fashion

Zara, BooHoo, H&M, Asos, GAP, TopShop, SHEIN, Forever 21 and Fashion Nova are examples of popular fast fashion names.

Environmental Damage [2]

  • Fast fashion uses cheap and toxic textile dyes. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter of clean water globally. Cheap fabrics like polyester are derived from fossil fuels.
  • Conventional cotton growers from developing countries use enormous quantities of water and pesticides. Deforestation to make room for more cotton fields and farming for leather and leather processing plants is a further problem, and hundreds of chemicals are required to process animal hides.
  • Animals are also impacted by fast fashion as toxic waste is released in waterways and ingested by land and marine life. Animal products such as leather, fur, and wool can result in animal exploitation and abuse.
  • 20% of the garments are discarded on the manufacturing line and 90% are thrown away in less than a year by consumers.

Exploited Labour [3]

  • About 93% of fast fashion brands fail to pay their garment workers the minimum living wage. [4]
  • People in fast fashion are exposed to toxic cancer-causing chemicals and brutal working conditions, and much of production occurs in the already highly-exploited Global South.
  • Fast fashion dyes are often discarded into local waters, adversely impacting the health of workers, animals, and nearby residents.
  • Workers, some of which are children, work long hours, for low wages, and under mental and physical abuse.

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