I first heard the term some time last year, when I was still a LuLaRoe consultant, and they were rebranding, and their tagline boasted fast fashion.
Maybe I had heard “fast fashion” before that, but I first took notice and got curious about its meaning last year.
So what is fast fashion, exactly, and is it a bad thing?
Fast fashion is, quite literally, fashion that moves fast.
Trends used to come out four seasons in a year. Major fast fashion retailers now come out with new lines about 52 times a year – “microseasons,” if you will.
Customers now expect weekly updates to their favorite stores, or we get bored.
And we don’t want these weekly fresh updates to inventory to cost much more than a meal out.
Essentially, fast fashion is cheap, disposable clothing. It’s the fast food of the clothing world.
So is fast fashion sustainable?
In a word, no. And here’s why.
In order to make this trendy clothing so affordable, the materials and labor need to be cheap.
The average American throws away over 68 pounds of textiles per year. You read that right – throws away. Like, into the garbage. Even when we donate our clothing, 84% of it ends up in a landfill.
Cheap material = polyester. And polyester is just petroleum based junk that won’t decompose for up to 200 years.
And cheap labor?
The true cost of cheap clothes is people living in poverty and factories ignoring regulations on health, safety, and child labor laws.
Here are some fast fashion tidbits for you to consider:
The United States imports more than 1 billion garments annually from China alone.
While American labor and environment standards aren’t perfect, obviously there are far reaching implications when we outsource so much to other countries.
(I include American made garments into my ethically made clothing boutique, despite the flaws of American made textiles. Consider just the “buy local” aspect of shipping a sweater from Los Angeles to Iowa versus China or Bangladesh to Iowa, and you get why American made fits into my “done over perfect” motto of ethical.)
Landfill waste isn’t the only negative impact fast fashion has on the environment. From start to finish, cheap clothes produce toxic waste. They are made out of toxic chemicals, they release toxic chemicals into the air when manufactured, and they pollute the water.
And guess what? These toxins are released into the water stream when you wash your clothes. Gross.
One of the main reasons I decided to open my boutique is to empower women.
I like to say that I start with the micro – the woman looking in the mirror and feeling beautiful in her own skin, right this minute is way more likely to take on her day, her week, her job, her children, her life – with grace and power and dignity – to the macro – the woman who made the garment or the piece of jewelry being worn feeling valuable and worthy is more likely to take on her day, her week, her job, her children, her life – with grace and power and dignity.
When we lift each other up, even as strangers, we lift the entire planet up, right?
To get “woo woo” for just a sec, I want to be clothing myself in someone else’s highest vibration, her strength and dignity.
The overwhelming majority of fast fashion is made by women who are under 24 years old, and earning less than $3 per day.
That statistic doesn’t feel empowering to me, and whenever possible, I want to be a part of something different and better.
Whenever possible, I want to feel empowered about my purchases.
So now you know.
I didn’t know exactly what the term “fast fashion” meant, and I certainly didn’t know its implications on our planet, on women, on the economy.
Once I learned about these things, I felt it on my heart to provide an alternative.
My intention is never to make a woman feel guilty about wanting to take time to feel beautiful.
My intention is to empower women to feel beautiful on the outside and on the inside.
I aim to offer beautiful, comfortable and affordable alternatives to fast fashion.
So how can you avoid fast fashion? I want to make it simple for you, no matter your budget!
Buy less. Done and done, right? Your wallet will thank you! (PS – If you want to be super hip, this is called “slow fashion.”)
Buy more secondhand items. These days, a ton of secondhand items are fast fashion pieces that are basically brand new. You’re keeping these items out of landfills, and again, you’re saving money.
Purchase fair trade items. They are a bit more expensive, sure, but that’s because you are paying the person who made it a living wage.
Purchase items made out of sustainable/green materials. (I’ll write a whole blog post for you on that soon!)