What is Fast Fashion? More and more people are asking themselves this question these days as they realize that the fashion industry has gotten out of control. And the answer describes fast fashion as a profit-oriented business model in which new trends are constantly being created so that people buy more and more clothes. In principle, everyone suffers from fast fashion, along with the environment and society - except for the big fashion brands. Fast fashion has a large share of the biggest Environmental problems of our time.
In this article, I would like to show you what fast fashion is, what the causes and consequences of this development in the fashion industry are and what solutions are already in the starting blocks.
Fast Fashion - What is it?
So what is actually behind the term fast fashion? In order to get to know the problem better, we should first find a suitable definition for the term.
The term fast fashion refers to a corporate strategy that aims to bring new fashions into stores at a high frequency.http://www.fastfashion-dieausstellung.de/de/konsum
The fashion industry has found a simple but not inconsequential way with fast fashion, Have people buy more of their own products in a short period of time. Whereas we used to be used to finding out about the latest fashion trends twice a year (spring/summer & fall/winter collections), today the trends change at least once a month. But it's mainly about cheap fashion - because people buy it more often. It is only cheap because it is made from cheap materials for cheap wages. But because fashion is so cheap, it is bought more often. And so that the industry can earn money from it, materials and fashion items have to be produced even faster.
Facts, Statistics & Notes
To illustrate the problems behind fast fashion, I would like to provide you with some facts and statistics.
- Fashion giant Zara launches around 12,000 new designs every year.₁
- The textile industry generates around 3 trillion dollars in sales per year.₂
- Global clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014. In 2014, the figure was 100,000,000,000 items of clothing.₃
- For the American market, 97% of all garments are produced in low-wage countries such as Cambodia or Bangladesh.₄
The facts about the development of fast fashion are frightening. I would like to give you the Sustainability documentation "The True Cost" to your heart. You can watch it on Netflix, for example. In a short space of time, the movie gives you a great insight into the problem of fast fashion.
Causes of fast fashion
My plan was actually to include a list of the most important causes of fast fashion here. But there is no need for a list. Because the reasons that a problem like fast fashion exists are the Fashion industry greed for profit and we as Consumerswho fulfill this wish with more regular shopping trips.
The industry simply outsources the production of materials and finished clothing to low-wage countries. The bosses of the big fashion brands such as Zara and H&M are not interested in the fact that garments are produced there under the most appalling conditions for a pittance. They certainly don't care what toxins are released into the environment during production. The only important thing is THAT production is cheap. Because this is how profit margins can be achieved that would never be possible with fair production in Europe or America. For us consumers, this dirty business is hardly recognizable - unless you question how it is even possible to sell a T-shirt for €3.99.
But I don't want to forget here that, in addition to the greedy fashion brands, the Exponentially growing world population The problem of the increasing demand for clothing is of course an additional reason for the existence of fast fashion.
So while the causes of fast fashion are explained quite quickly, the consequences for the environment and society are a little more detailed.
Fast Fashion Consequences
It's hard to imagine the consequences of a T-shirt for €3.99 that regularly crosses the checkout. That's why I'd like to show you in more detail why fast fashion is such a massive problem for our coexistence on this beautiful planet. Which should remain as beautiful as it is.
Consequences of production for fast fashion
In order to meet the growing demand for cheap textiles, in addition to crude oil for fibers from Plastic particularly large quantities of cotton. And to ensure the latter, rainforests are being cut down in order to grow 80% genetically modified cotton on the resulting farmland, using pesticides and consuming an unbelievable amount of water. The chemicals used produce fatal diseases in the environment. Birth defects, cancer and mental illness are some examples of the increasing consequences.₅ The circle closes when you realize that companies like Monsanto are behind both seeds and chemicals for faster cotton growth, as well as cancer drugs.
Tip: Find out in the article about Organic cotton more about the sustainable alternative to conventional cotton.
Social consequences of fast fashion
The fashion industry creates jobs - that's a good thing at first. But for the trend-setting fashion in America, 97% of all garments are already produced in low-wage countries.
Low minimum wage, no trade union rights, no permanent employment. The fashion industry has fallen in love with countries like Bangladesh in order to produce its clothing as cheaply as possible. Those who sew sweaters and pants there do so under the harshest conditions. Chemicals, dark, dirty halls, no maternity pay, no pension entitlements. And all this for less than 2,70€ per day. Anyone who wants to form a trade union is beaten up behind closed doors. This is everyday life for the 4 million people who work in the textile industry in Bangladesh alone. And if the fashion industry wants to produce even more cheaply, the Bangladeshi government will drive wages even lower - because it has to stimulate the country's own economy. However, the industry does not have to deal with the additional suffering - because the workers are not employed by Zara & Co. So at second glance, the price of a €3.99 shirt is significantly higher.
Fast fashion and the consequences for the environment
However, it is not only the genetically modified, water- and energy-intensive cultivation of cotton that harms the environment, but in particular the industrial waste water, which is used, for example, to global land degradation contribute. In leather production in India alone, 50 million liters of industrial wastewater are discharged into the Ganges every day. The sacred river is poisoned - yet its water continues to be used for drinking water production and to irrigate the fields. I would also like to mention the waste of resources - because where there is mass production, there is usually a lot left over. Discarded goods produced at great agricultural expense and suffering, which can no longer be accepted even by aid organizations, are simply incinerated. Fast fashion is actually so cheap that it is not worth selling or refurbishing the textiles.
What to do about fast fashion?
The environmentally friendly answer to the serious consequences of fast fashion was not long in coming. It is called slow fashion and refers to a movement of appreciation for one's own existing clothing and is therefore a valuable part of the minimalist lifestyle.
It's not enough, sustainable fashion made from natural materials. Fast fashion must be slowed down by simply buying less and enjoying what is already available.
The following aspects will surely help you to counteract the problem of fast fashion in your daily life:
- Maintain & respect existing fashion
- Choose better and buy less new
- Use well combinable, timeless clothing
- Buy quality - i.e. durable clothing
- Define your own style & hide trends
- Repair, re-sew or upcycle clothes
- Swap or sell superfluous fashion
I have deliberately not mentioned donating to the DRK used clothing container here. Even if this is the quickest way to dispose of clothes that are superfluous to you, it unfortunately causes problems at the markets where they end up. And people can't get the clothes there for free either.
The following documentation explains this problem resulting from fast fashion very well:
Stop Fast Fashion Together
As you have learned today, fast fashion is both a problem for the coexistence of people on earth and a massive environmental problem. People suffer diseases, forests are cut down, species are displaced and rivers are poisoned - all so that we can regularly buy new clothes.
Finally, I would like to recommend that you watch the movie "The True Cost" on Netflix. At the latest then you will realize that fast fashion is a problem that needs to be solved, both from an environmental and an ethical point of view.
Do you have any questions, tips or experiences about fast fashion that you would like to share? Then please leave a comment.
PS.: In the Environmental protection blog I naturally deal with all topics relating to nature and the environment. However, the majority of my work concerns the Life without plastic. If you would like to know more about this, I can send you my Plastic-free book for beginners to your heart. Have fun reading!
₄ Fashion United: Trump's economic plans: winners and losers in the fashion industry (as at 04.01.2017), available at https://t1p.de/q4po. [18.08.2020].
₅ Pritpal Singh / Documentary: The True Cost