Fast fashion is a symptom of globalization and capitalism.
Fast fashion is the phenomenon of producing clothes at exponential rates to keep up with high-fashion trends set by fashion companies. The ‘fast’ part of fast fashion comes from how the clothes are made, how fast the clothes cycle through fashion trends, and what happens to the clothes after they’ve been discarded – all in the name of fashion, of course.
Before fast fashion, there was seasonal fashion; fashion trends based on the change in weather and the need for different clothing styles. In stark contrast to this, fast fashion took over, taking the need to want in the fashion industry.
Fashion of need
According to ‘The Good Trade’ in ‘What Is Fashion, Anyway?’, before fashion was based on fluctuating trends, the fashion industry created its garments on the changes in season, which influenced the changes in fashion at the time. This fashion of need was the prevalent form of fashion, mostly because the industrial revolution hadn’t happened yet. Creators and consumers were bound by (in comparison to current times) rudimentary machinery and manual labor. Not only did this take money, but it also took time. Therefore, clothing was more expensive – consumers couldn’t afford to buy clothes as often as is normal now, nor was there time or money for the clothing industry to create the amount of clothing that cycles through shops in current times.
The clothing revolution
‘Bellatory’, in ‘Ready-to-Wear: A Short History of the Garment Industry’, explains once the industrial revolution enveloped the “western world”, clothes could be produced much faster and, therefore, at cheaper rates. Every aspect of the industry was supplemented with technology, making every stage of clothing creation faster.
It was the fashion industry that revolutionized this industry of need into one of want. With clothing now faster to produce, different styles and cuts were easier to make en masse, and the demand for fashion became a new front for the clothing industry. This was the beginning of fast fashion. With advertisements for new and different clothing now part of popular media, the notion of “fashion” became widespread.
‘Bellatory’ explains another large step for the clothing industry was the move from locally produced clothing to internationally produced clothes. Many clothing companies chose to move their factories to other countries, where worker’s pay was cheaper and the lack of regulation meant cheaper production. The clothing industry, operating on a low-expenditure high-production system, began to create clothing at rapid rates, and with the ability to keep up with equally quick fashion trends. ‘Bellatory’ tells us how clothing quality became progressively worse with the new invention of plastic. Again, a cheap material to make, plastic is a huge part of the current clothing industry.
Fast fashion and pollution
‘The Good Trade’ tells us about fast fashion and the environment. With the decline in the quality of materials used in clothing, garments don’t last as long and are thrown away quicker. A lot of the clothes made by the clothing industry end up in landfills or garbage incineration – either way, this means pollution.
Despite landfill and incineration, many of the clothes thrown away (a symptom of fast fashion) end up in the ocean and, because of the low-quality materials they’re made with, cause pollution. These pollutants contaminate wildlife and their natural habitats, with the damage occurring irreversible; these pollutants will be in the environment forever. This also directly affects humans in the matter of the food-chain.
Fish caught from the sea have these pollutants in their bodies, and we consume those pollutants when we eat seafood. The long-term consequences of plastic pollutants are still unknown but have already been linked to higher rates of cancer.
Fashion and the internet
With the rise of the internet, the fast fashion industry’s reach grew even more. With stores placing themselves on the internet, creating an online presence, everyone with access to the internet had access to them and their entire catalog. Clothes shopping didn’t just happen on the high street anymore, people could now buy clothes online and have them delivered to their home. While this may seem normal to us, the internet and its connections were revolutionary to all businesses. just last week i got a great deal on my broadband from here but a few years ago you would have been hard-pressed to find anything as stable.
According to ‘The Good Trade’ and ‘Bellatory’, the high street fashion industry has a high turnover of styles and trends. This, of course, is driven by the internet. If fashion companies weren’t online, there would be less demand for new fashions and styles and therefore less turnover of garments. However, the opinion on whether the internet is harming the fashion world is a matter of opinion.
Is the internet harming the fashion world?
Those who partake in “high-fashion”, such as that of Paris Fashion Week, maybe of the opinion that the internet is harming fashion. With creators spending an entire year culminating new ideas and transforming them into new innovations for fashion, such creators may dislike the fast fashion of high street companies. The argument could be made that, with so many companies influencing “general” fashion, fashion overall is being polluted with trend fluctuations that aren’t itself fashion.
On the other hand, those high street companies whose business largely depends on online sales may disagree and argue “high-fashion” is inaccessible to those who shop at high street stores, and by following, trends are providing those shoppers with the fashion they can relate to.
So, what’s your opinion?