Do you know where your clothes come from? Zainab Boladale looks at the worrying trend of 'fast fashion' in high street stores.
Fast fashion is a new term that describes the way in which mainstream retailers replicate high-end runway trends at a more affordable price. However, the low-quality fabrics used in the production of these clothes prove that buyers are getting exactly what they’re paying for. It’s not far-fetched to claim that clothes are now being made to fall apart.
If you’ve ever bought a pair of jeans or a top simply because of how cheap it was but then later go home to find that the quality diminishes rapidly after its first wash, then you’ve been a victim of fast fashion. Fast fashion is a result of retailers finding it difficult to keep up with the demand for new style trends. The fashion world has gone from having it’s fashion trends dictated by the four seasons to fashion trends that are dictated by how quickly people get tired of a look.
However, there are so many problems enveloped within this commercial practice. People are beginning to care less and less about where their clothes come from, how they're produced, what name brands produce them and the quality of fabrics used. The problems affect everyone, from the people who make the clothes to the people who buy the clothes.
The only times where there is a general reluctance or a hesitance to support brand names is in cases where it's revealed that the creation of clothes involved animal cruelty. This is true in particular when it comes to companies who produce clothes that use real leather or real fur, but why aren’t we as reluctant when it comes to the involvement of human cruelty?
There are cases where when it’s been revealed that high-end companies are making clothes in third world countries and paying their workers unfair wages or have their clothes made by children as young as 9 years old. People are reluctant to face the shame that comes with the realisation of the type of labour that goes into having their clothes so cheap, all in the name of fast fashion.
We’ve gotten so used to this culture that many companies are aware that people will still support them even if they’re exposed to the realities of their products' history. This attitude creates so many problems and a fast fashion cycle that leads to the acceptance of unethical practices. Does it even come as a shock to find out that some of your favourite brands, such as H&M, Nike, Victoria Secrets, Penny’s and Disney, have all been involved in sweatshop scandals and unethical human right practices in the last decade? Would it even really stop you from shopping in these places?
Attempts are made to fool consumers into believing that their clothes were made using ethical or environmentally conscious practices. A perfect example of this is H&M. While they are very transparent in their business model and offer the names of their suppliers as well as making moves towards using sustainable materials, it’s also been discovered that their clothes are often made in unsafe buildings that don’t meet the safety regulations for a number of workers they have.
In the last five years, it’s been discovered that they have been involved in the use of child labour. Clearly, it’s not a case that they don’t have the money to invest in better working conditions but more a case that they want to mass produce as cheaply as possible to push their products just as cheap.
The only way we can really stand up against this is by boycotting large companies and supporting local companies who are more likely to have in-depth detail of how and where
their clothes are made. While the price might be a little higher, you’re more likely to get better quality clothes and you’ll know you’re supporting a brand that doesn’t engage in the unfortunate practices that so many global companies are involved in. The future of fast fashion is bleak and with consumerism on the rise with more of an emphasis to get the latest outfits, it’s worrying to think of what the next decade will look like.