Fast Fashion Can Be Quite Affordable, But Here's the Real Cost Everyone Is Paying

Published February 5th, 2020 - 12:07 GMT
Fast Fashion Can Be Quite Affordable, But Here's the Real Cost Everyone Is Paying
Starting from the 80s, 'Fast Fashion' has been providing us with trendy quick and cheap garments options at a very high pace that it's so hard to resist. (Shutterstock)

Who among us wasn't overwhelmed with excitement when they found out that their favorite brands are on sale? Who among us didn't wish they could afford a brand new outfit for every new selfie? That's exactly what 'Fast Fashion' is adding to the modern world nowadays, but at what expense?

Starting from the 80s, 'Fast Fashion' has been providing us with trendy, quick, and cheap garment options at a very high pace that it's become so hard to resist. The 2.5 trillion dollar industry has been increasingly growing especially with the rising use of social media platforms, where people have started to share daily selfies with their latest up-to-date outfits, that fashion manufacturers are going to great lengths to satisfy customers' non-ending craving for new designs. According to a 2016 McKinsey report, clothing production has doubled between the years 2000 - 2014.

Many fashion brands took this chance to increase their profit. According to a 2017 Greenpeace report, clothes sales have doubled from almost one trillion dollars in 2002 to 1.8 trillion dollars during 2015 and the average person is now buying 60% more items of clothing and keeping them for only about half as long as 15 years ago. 

Fast fashion clothes are made in huge factories that exist across several countries in Asia and Latin America, where over 40 million people are slaved away to produce tons of clothing items, shoes, and accessories to be sold across global markets.

Yet, workers in countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Guatemala, and others are reportedly working in dire conditions and are making little than the minimum wage in their countries, that the industry focused on making the lives of millions of well off people around the world easier, is facing numerous ethical questions.

The Global Fashion Agenda 2017 stated that 87% of Pakistani women working in the garment sector are paid less than the minimum wage. Additionally, several human rights organizations often express their concerns over about exploitation of laborers in these plants, including underpayments that force them to work for extra hours in order for them to meet their daily needs, not to mention various cases of physical and sexual violence. 

In addition to its role in changing social behaviors and its impact on people's mental health, especially when it comes to the growing obsession over looks and social image, Fast Fashion has also been blamed for causing a lot of harm to the environment, at a time the world is trying to tackle a global climate crisis. 

As Fast Fashion is highly dependent on synthetic cheap fabrics, it's becoming more and more focused on using petrochemical-derived materials that take up to 70 years to dissolve, such as nylon, rayon, viscose, and polyester, posing a major threat to the environment. Moreover, making one kilogram of fabric generates an average of 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases. Fashion experts also explain that making a shirt and a pair of jeans consume an amount of water equal to what an average person drinks for 13 years.

Fast Fashion may sound like a great idea for those who wish to be stylish and shop like fashionistas, but one needs to stop and rethink clothing and shopping needs in light of the cost everyone seems to be forced to pay to this multi-billion industry.

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