The True Cost of Fast Fashion


Recently in my global politics class we watched the documentary, The True Cost, about fast fashion affecting lives in Global South countries.  The documentary highlights the horrible consequences that come along with cheap clothing.  Working conditions in these countries are so poor, with workers earning less than $3 a day, in conditions that severely harm people.  In fashion’s most profitable year, the two greatest tragedies in the industry occurred, with a factory collapsing killing 1000 and a fire killing 100, both in Bangladesh.  This is happening because of the new demands of the fashion industry.  When there used to be 4 fashion seasons a year, there are now essentially 52, a new season a week.  These companies who use sweat shops claim that due to the recent growth in the competition in the industry, this is the only way that their company could stay in business.

Companies who target teenage girls, like H&M and Forever 21, are major culprits of fast fashion.  They prey on the stigma of fashion.  H&M has recognized recently not their fast fashion effects on workers, but the toll it has taken on the environment.  Recently creating their first ever conscious collection, a line that creates clothing with sustainable development efforts, H&M is proving they are recognizing their mistakes and are on their way to change.  As a teenage girl I think, how can I eliminate the effects of fast fashion? With a low budget for clothes, and wanting to keep up with the current trends, it is hard to resist these cheap outlets of clothing.  I think that it is not fair for all of us to have to spend hundreds of dollars on one outfit, but instead we need to be more of a conscious customer, and end the stigma around fashion.  First of all as NDA girls we need to give ourselves credit, we are doing a lot to help by wearing the same outfit everyday!  As a customer we need to be more aware of where our products come from.

I have recently been looking into more fair trade affordable companies.  I have discovered Everlane which has an ethical production process and are all about transparency.  Everlane spends months finding the best factories around the world that provides rights for their workers, with affordable fashion for its customer.  Another common fair trade company is Patagonia.  Patagonia is one of the earliest defenders of environmental ethics in the activewear industry, and one of the first adopters of recycled material and organic cotton use.  Though their prices run typically around $50-$100, their products are very well made, and last a long time.

Most importantly, we need to work to end the stigma around fashion.  The stigma around fashion is that it is not acceptable to wear an article of clothing more than once.  We need to embrace low consumption of clothing and wear clothing much more than once.  We can also use sites like Rent the Runway where you can rent articles of clothing such as a prom or formal dress then return it, rather than it sitting in your closet for years.