What is Fast Fashion?


Fast fashion consumerism is planned obsolescence which devalues clothing. That devaluation of clothing has larger implications for labor, the environment and culture. Low priced apparel of low quality has a short life span. This causes consumers to purchase more items of low quality. Low cost is a tantalizing aspect of this clothing. Often fast fashion is trendy. The interest in the color and style is based on short lived novelty. Once the trend has moved on, the consumer throws out the old clothing. Or the cheaply made garment will no longer be functional. 

This cycle of buying on trend has contributed to global problems. Due to a devaluation of clothing, the people who perform the labor of making garments are devalued. Garment creation is a highly laborious process. This was once a process that was a huge part of the purview of the United States labor force. Mass production in the U.S. in the early 20th Century made clothing, a once expensive commodity, widely available. The lower labor costs in countries like China made clothing even more accessible for the average worker. By the time in the late 20th Century, consumers expected to buy high quantities of clothing at lower prices than in the past. This demand for low prices has led to low pay and bad work conditions for garment workers across the globe. Many in higher cost labor markets have lost their jobs altogether. 

Another global problem is the environment. Many fast fashion garments are made with plastics which do not breakdown. The waste created by this fast cycle of consumerism is enormous and has no place to go. The low cost processes used to create the fabric and trims are often toxic to the environment and the workers. 

Culturally, fast fashion is not innovative. Although fast fashion is based on changing trends, the trends are often recycled from previously successful trends. Trendy garments are creatively driven by marketers rather than designers. This is pretty personal for me as I was once an apparel designer who felt like I had no real input on the products I designed. The lack of innovation has actually hurt sales for retailers. People can only buy so many versions of the same garment. Many retailers have answered by offering even low priced items. 

Another answer for this is slow fashion. My next post will be all about slow fashion.