Trashin’ Fashion


Nicole Lamison

Clothes are a necessity. Fashion is an industry and an extremely profitable one at that. According to the Joint Economic Committee, since 2018, the US alone has generated almost 380 billion dollars in revenue per year. Fashion continues to be everchanging with trends rising and falling quicker than ever. Enter: fast fashion. 

Fast fashion is cheap clothing mass produced by retailers trying to replicate the latest trends. The clothes are inexpensive with prices as low as $5 for a shirt. Sadly, these prices are only possible through exploitation of labor. Fast fashion factories are located in countries overseas with different, if any, human rights laws. Therefore, working conditions barely need to meet a tolerable standard. Workers have low wages that are extremely hard to live off of. In Bangladesh, for example, a worker might be paid as little as 33 US cents an hour. These workers are often forced to work 14 to 16 hour days, and if they object, they will be fired. 

Additionally, the quality of the clothes reflects the price. After one laundry cycle, the clothes often shrink, lose their shape or color, and possibly dye other clothes in the process. Because the fabric and dyes are such low quality, the clothes do not last long before they become unwearable. When the clothes lose their initial appearance, they are discarded or given to someone else who will most likely do the same. Ultimately, a new fashion trend has been created—disposable clothing. 

In 2018, the United States Environmental Protection Agency stated that “Landfills received 11.3 million tons of MSW textiles.” With fast fashion’s growing demand, this number is destined to rise. The World Economic Forum reported that “the fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply.” The price of the clothes may be cheap, but the environmental toll is devastating. While this new era of fashion is developing in popularity, it needs to be recognized for what it truly is—landfill clothing. Fast fashion clothes are cheap because they will last for a few months at best, so it is wiser to buy more sustainable clothing even if the price is higher. 

You may be wondering: If fast fashion is so awful for the environment, why do people support it? Well, many consumers do not know the economic repercussions of this trend. Popular fast fashion brands such as Shein and Romwe are flooding the TikTok feed pages of many unsuspecting teens. These videos often review their clothes and exaggerate how good the quality is. Here is a list of fast fashion brands you may even recognize. Instead of supporting these types of stores, look towards more sustainable clothing stores, consider thrifting clothes, or try buying from small businesses. Here is a list of good quality, eco-friendly, affordable clothing brands. With this information in mind, shop ‘til you drop… sustainably!