If you go to any Zara store on a Monday and come back the next week, chances are no items in the shop will be the same as the previous week. Zara, alongside many other fashion brands, has developed a selling strategy known as fast fashion that has revolutionized the textile industry.
There was a time when people only bought clothes two times a year: summer and winter, and those were the only two times in which fashion industries released their collections. Nowadays, however, we live in a globalised world where everything moves faster and where our lives are more hectic and dynamic than ever. This means that if an obscure clothing trend is hot in Japan, people from France will know of it in less than a week. People all over the globe feel the urge to be just as fashionable as everyone else, which is the reason why brands have developed this so called fast fashion strategy: cheap clothes, where you need them, when you want them.
Fast fashion is not as flawless as it seems, though. The truth is, in order for you to buy a cool shirt for only 14.99€, someone somewhere in Vietnam or Morocco or Bangladesh has had to work under unbelievably deprived working conditions. There have been cases of workers in such countries writing messages on clothes tags asking for help, hoping for the buyer in Spain, England or the United States to open their eyes and become aware of what is happening on the other side of the ocean.
These workers not only have to suffer abusive work schedules with no breaks and work in filthy factories, but also have to deal with exposure to chemical and toxic substances. These substances are then transferred to the clothes you wear, as it has been proven that some of the fabric used has traces of lead and other chemicals.
These substances damage the workers, your own skin and, of course, the environment too. The fast fashion industry is disastrous to the environment, but we as consumers, are just as guilty. We are responsible for 30 kilograms of clothing waste per year per person, and that involves a terrifying level of contamination.
Fast fashion is a strategy that aims for maximum profit, and that is why these clothes are always so cheap. The low quality of the clothes means that they are specifically designed not to last, so you have no other choice than to go shopping again the following month.
However, do we really have no choice? The truth is, we do. If there is one thing that we need to keep in mind, it is that brands depend on us. We, as consumers, have the immense power to change how things work. For instance, we could buy clothes in vintage shops, share our older siblings’ closet or even let our creativity flow by redesigning what we already have already bought. I too have been, and still am, a victim of this fast fashion revolution, but regardless it is important that we think before we buy. We need to consider whether we really need what we are buying, and whether we are helping others by doing so. We have to provide momentum and promote firms that are willing to respect the environment and the people, and maybe that way we can make the world a little brighter.
If you are willing to take that next big step, and you want to quit fast fashion, check this out: http://www.refinery29.com/fast-fashion-brand-alternatives#slide