Fast Fashion: The Fad that Failed

Models walking down a runway
Models walking down a runway

Technology has played the largest role in the rise of fast fashion. Social media rules the fashion industry- with the youth turning to the likes of Snapchat and Instagram models for clothing tips, advice and inspiration.

This means that now, clothing choices are more versatile than ever- instead of waiting for Vogue’s seasonal magazine debating new trends, one negative post from a social media star is enough to completely turn the tides against a company. 

The Ellen Macarthur foundation has estimated that the amount of clothes produced has doubled over the last 15 years. It is important to consider the life of clothes- people grow out of them, easily damaged- thrown away without much thought.

Most clothes are also a luxury- we buy them because we feel like we need them, though, in reality, it is more based off of a desire/want. On the consumer side, with tastes changing ever so quickly, people rush out to buy the new fad, often leaving last month's/year’s behind.

This creates waste and is an inefficient use of resources by the consumer. But considering the producer’s point of view, they have to be able to quickly design, manufacture and ship out products within a day- be it making replicas of a dress that Kylie Jenner wore to a party, or copying another brand’s sought after goods.

But this creates a re-allocation of resources, meaning that companies often have to scrap large batches of “old-season” clothes that are no longer desired by the consumers. 

Reducing the impact of fast fashion on the environment is instrumental to chipping away at the global warming issue that is crippling the planet. A singular t-shirt needs 2700 lites of water to produce- around the same volume of water that a regular person drinks in 2.5 years. This is massive, considering that we are slowly, but surely, running out of clean water and are constantly trying to find new ways to procure it. 

In newer generations (mine especially), new “trends” include thrift shopping, recycling clothes (the second-hand market) and upcycling.

I am still dipping my feet into these trends (starting off with upcycling in my school, turning old fabrics from clothes that can’t be sold into scrunchies, which are very much in demand right now).

In Singapore, thrift shopping hasn’t yet reached its peak of demand, and hence there aren’t a lot of options. I hope that this changes, but I realize there needs to be a change of mindset in the younger age-groups-  that buying new clothes every time we see it boom in popularity is, in fact, impacting our environment to an unthinkable magnitude. 

“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere, is paying.” - Lucy Siegle (British environmental journalist)

“Buy less. Choose well. Make it last” - Vivienne Westwood (British fashion designer)

“As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy” - Emma Watson (British actress)