The hype of fast fashion is catching up with the locals and we could be getting slightly too into it at costs bigger than our wallet: The environment and cheap labour. How do we solve these issues? We’ll have to look just a little bit deeper, but before that, we have to know what exactly is ‘fast fashion’.
Fast fashion is the practice of taking all the fashion catwalk-designs (notably the higher-end wear) and mass-producing it at low costs to sell it at low prices. What this does is that it makes the clothing (and the fashion) a quick and disposable commodity. Just like fast-food, you take a nicely crafted double-cheeseburger recipe and then you start producing it by the hundreds at the nearest red-coloured fast-food place.
A research done by YouGov revealed that 27% of the participants have thrown away a piece of clothing after wearing it just once and that 14% thrown away at least three pieces of clothes that they wore only once!
The fast fashion culture is more common today than ever
Fashion retailers such as H&M and Uniqlo is an example of the fast fashion culture: They’re slowly dominating the fashion industry with affordable fashion and accessories, but with great prices. This has lead to the decline of other brands such as GAP, Topshop, and other privately owned clothing shops.
These fast fashion companies are also creating new clothing lines every month and every season, hooking the trendy persons into staying with the trend where they ultimately buy up clothes they don’t need (and probably never wear). What happens with the older clothing then?
In that same research by YouGov, at least 3 out of 10 millennials have thrown unwanted clothes away. The report further added that while Malaysians commonly give away unwanted clothes to charity or to friends and family, the millennial-generation tend to sell the unwanted clothes online and may also play to their creative side to re-fashion these unwanted garments into new clothes.
But what are the typical reasons these clothings become unwanted? It’s because they’re “old” and “unfashionable”, or the owners have just gotten “bored of wearing it”.
What Are The Consequences Of Fast Fashion Culture?
You are wasting a lot of money that could be used for other purposes.
Yes, clothing from fast fashion outlets are affordable, but affordable hardly ever means “saving”. The money saved from buying several t-shirts on impulse could probably fund your next flight ticket or even act as an emergency fund!
That few hundred ringgit you stack up on your credit card could have been saved into a unit trust fund, stocks, or even put into a fixed deposit with returns. What would you get out of that? The money to retire, to buy that dream home, that dream car, and even your dream travel destination!
You are killing the planet and your ethics
The amazing colours, prints, and finishes on your clothing are commonly made from toxic chemicals, according to a news report by The Independent UK. The dyeing of textiles is one of the largest polluter of clean water in the world, second only to agriculture.
The Detox campaign by Greenpeace has been one of the driving force in trying to get fashion brands to reduce the use of toxic chemicals from their supply chains after it tested a number of the products and noted the presence of toxic chemicals.
The True Cost, a documentary, highlighted the death of a US cotton farmer by a brain tumour, as well as several serious illnesses and birth defects in the children of cotton farmers. These are the side effects of the use of high levels of pesticides in cotton farming to prevent crop failure – the very same cotton that are used in many fast fashion brands.
You are losing out on space and time
If you’ve been finding that you need to clean up your wardrobe more often these days (tidying up and throwing out your clothes), then perhaps it’s a sign to stop getting more clothes. Yes, that one pair of pants may not seem like much, but then it adds to the already large stack you have at home, taking up a ton of space.
You will also be spending a lot of time trying to decide which clothes to wear on a daily basis if you’ve got a large amount. You would be spoilt for choice!
You are oppressing the cost of labour in third world countries
In case you are not aware, many of our cheap clothing is made and manufactured in developing countries such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia. At the cost of cheap clothing, companies are gaining from the really low-priced labour in these countries and saving money by not providing a safe working environment as well.
Just in 2013 did a building in Bangladesh, Rana Plaza, collapse. It housed five clothing factories at that time, resulting in the deaths of over 1,100 people and injuring thousands more. It was a sign that many brands had to really pick their supply chain well to ensure proper environments and labour. In spite of that, however, there were no more than 20 brands signing up for the Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge.
In some cases, children labour are still contributing to making the cheap garments many of us are wearing today at wages and ages way lower than they deserve. Price is driven by demand and supply. When there is a spike in cheap clothing demand, companies will continue to meet them with supply at the cost of the people in these countries.
What Can You Do As A Consumer?
Consider cutting down your clothes shopping; control that urge to get into the latest ‘trend’ set by these fashion brands. Only get those you really need and save money. You can also donate or recycle your older unwanted clothes to recycling centres and charity organizations.
Aside from turning the unwanted clothes into recycling centres and charity organizations, you could also try to fashion them into other clothes or products such as bags. This would help spread the message of utilizing resources at a necessary basis. Besides, you don’t need the latest trends to be confident!
This article is a guest contribution by CompareHero.my, your go-to website for finding Credit Cards, Personal Loans or Broadband products in Malaysia. Read our blog for more exciting personal finance tips!