By Heather Barrigan
Fast fashion has been around for a lot longer than people remember; however, now it has evolved into a lucrative industry which benefits both business and consumers. However, on the other side of the coin, fast fashion’s popularity has forced it into the spotlight, which has caused many people to form an unethical opinion regarding the industry.
Fast fashion has proven to be extremely useful in today’s high-speed fashion industry as a result of:
The main reason why fast fashion has become a thriving industry is due to low production costs. This allows companies to generate quick and large profits, with clothing sales in recent years almost doubling from one trillion to 1.8 trillion dollars, showcasing the immediate demand for this type of business.
With low-cost production, enables the ability for fast fashion brands to mass-produce thousands of products in a small amount of time for a low market value which is extremely attractive to consumers.
As fast fashion companies are able to make, sell and send products out to customers on demand, this ultimately increases customer satisfaction. They also cater to current trends and are able to mimic runway favourites in a matter of days.
Fast fashion has also spurred the idea of having a new outfit for every occasion, which is possible for customers who shop at fashion brands, as they can pay less and receive the products as quick as the next day.
While the upsides of fast fashion help consumers stay on trend, many are questioning the morality of fast fashion, due to the following disadvantages:
Negative environmental impact
Unfortunately, a huge disadvantage of fast fashion is the damage it has on the environment. The fashion industry as a whole is actually the second-worst polluter. However, fast fashion takes it up a notch as companies waste billions of materials all year round, not to mention that it takes 2,700 litres of water to make one single cotton t-shirt. Non-renewable synthetic polymers are also a problem. They are used to prolong the longevity of clothing, however the production of this type of material results in the release of gases that are 300 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.
The quick turnaround of fast fashion products has a direct effect on the amount of greenhouse gases released, which is mostly caused by excessive amounts of production and regular deliveries via air and road transportation. There is also a significant amount of waste, as many fashion brands do not use recyclable materials, which results in thousands if not millions of items being thrown out. This has caused celebrities and politicians to chime in on the debate, with Prince Charles recently condemning fast fashion and instead advising the UK public to go green with their fashion choices.
One of the most prominent issues found within the fast fashion industry is the unfair treatment of migrants who work in an insecure workplace. This includes the horrendous conditions in which they work as well as payment, as the majority of migrants working for fast fashion companies do not hold a Work Visa. Many of the workers are trafficked into the UK, there is no legal minimum wage, so many receive less than £3.50 per hour. This treatment has been referred to as modern slavery, as more prominent fashion companies are being outed and prosecuted for neglecting employee rights.
Due to the illegal nature of the jobs, they are not offered a contract and therefore, do not have the worker rights that a typical employee would receive, such as holiday pay or redundancy. Their rights have been limited even more so amid the coronavirus pandemic, as those with temporary status do not have access to public funds under the No Recourse to Public Funds condition which was implemented by the government.
Migrants working within the fast fashion industry are also violated in regard to their settlement entitlement, which means they will never be eligible to apply for British citizenship and Indefinite Leave to Remain status.
Now you have an insight into the fast fashion industry, and how it works, you should start to think about the effect your buying choices have on people as well as the environment.
So, the main question is, are you ready to give up fast fashion?
About the Author:
Heather is a seasoned content writer and political correspondent from ImmiNews, who specialises in outreach the creation of engaging and informative immigration-related content.