Fast Fashion– noun; a term used to describe cheap and affordable clothes which are the result of catwalk designs moving into stores in the fastest possible way in order to respond to the latest trends.
The fashion industry has had an overhaul in the last 15 years. Distinct buying seasons and a focus on quality have been replaced by a constant flow of “quick response” trends; clothing that is manufactured quickly and cheaply allowing mainstream consumers to buy the latest fashions at a low price. Is this shift however costing you more than the $15 you spent on your Forever 21 sweater?
H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are the retailers best known for their quick response fashion but they are also known for their poor quality. With a focus on bulk manufacturing and a fast turn around, quality assurance falls to the wayside. In other words, that $10 top you buy for Saturday night will have fallen apart by Sunday morning.
What was once a stable three month process from the design conception to store distribution, can now be done in an alarming two weeks. But who is leading this fashion industry revolution? An article published by Pacific Standard Magazine titled “The Secret World of Fast Fashion” takes a deeper look at this phenomenon. Their findings:
“The nerve center of fast fashion in America is a sprawling, 30 square-block neighborhood in downtown LA… today pretty much everyone who works there is either Korean or Mexican- little husband and wife teams working alongside their children.”
The article goes on to describe the history of these immigrants; how their entrepreneurial attitude, decades of garment making experience, combined with setting up shop in LA during the 1990′s- created the perfect conditions for a fashion industry re-haul.
Positives? There’s an accessibility to current trends for the average consumer that didn’t exist before. Finally you can purchase those shoes your favorite style blogger was wearing in Paris- or at least their much less expensive counterparts. Negatives? Unethical working conditions, depletion of natural resources, a negative environmental impact, increased pressure on the fashion industry, etc… and to make matters worse, the poor quality products which are designed to last only a few wears may end up in Goodwill- but much more often, in a landfill.
But with so many people buying in, how do we back out? First and foremost is realizing the strong disconnect between garment and consumer. It’s like many other big industries in America- they often go unquestioned because the average consumer wants to believe they have their best interests at heart. But discovering your skinny jeans were mass manufactured in a warehouse endlessly pumping out poorly made clothes makes them feel a little less special- don’t you think? It’s time to end the tireless trend cycle and start caring about where our garments come from- because once you do and you discover the passion and stories behind beautiful, well designed, ethical clothes- you’ll realize why you loved fashion in the first place. Try opting for local boutiques, one of a kind shops and e-commerce sites that offer higher quality products- buy less, but buy better.
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