The only constant in fashion is that it is always changing. The fashion industry is a multibillion-dollar worldwide sector dedicated to the production and sale of clothing.
Fashion trends come in and out constantly, so retailers and the fashion industry are under constant pressure to produce trendy clothing. This leads to fast-fashion and overproduction causing a large amount of clothing waste.
What is Fast Fashion
Fast Fashion is when brands quickly and constantly overstock stores to keep up with fashion trends in hopes to satisfy consumers’. Following that, they quickly discard their collections to make room for the next “micro-season” of trendy clothing.
Fast fashion has three main characteristics: it is inexpensive, trendy, and disposable. It makes buying clothes on the spur of the moment simple and affordable. To stay up with ever-changing trends, consumers are encouraged to update, and replace, their clothes on a frequent basis throughout the year. Fashion manufacturers and resellers’ economic gain is dependent on increased production and lower manufacturing costs.
The History of Fast Fashion
Since the development of the sewing machine during the industrial revolution, fashion has accelerated. As a result, ready-to-wear clothes grew in popularity. Ready-made clothes provided everyone with a variety of clothing options in a variety of sizes. Which made clothes more affordable for the middle class. However, until approximately a century later, handmade and bespoke dressmaking and tailoring were still widespread and the most common.
Fabric had to be rationed during WWII, and styles had to be simplified. People began to accept mass-produced apparel more readily instead of the handmade and bespoke dressmaking and tailoring.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, mass textile manufacture exploded, labour and textile production were outsourced to the developing world. While manufacturers looked for the lowest labour and materials, demand for inexpensive apparel remained strong. Clothing manufacturers began to shorten their manufacturing cycles and change trends more frequently than four times each year around this period.
In the 1990s, fashion supply chains created new production models to become as “fast” as they are today. Fashion retailers continued to decrease expenses while increasing the rate at which they produced designs.
Today, It’s common for retailers to create weekly “micro seasons”; each year, roughly 52 new collections are introduced. There are sure to be repercussions with such a tremendous speed of manufacturing.
Tips on How to Spot a Fast fashion brand
- There are thousands of styles to choose from, covering all of the hottest trends.
- The interval between when a trend or garment is seen on the catwalk or in celebrity media and when it hits the shelves is extremely brief.
- Offshore manufacturing, where labour is cheapest, with low-wage workers that have little rights or safety, and complicated supply networks with no visibility beyond the top tier.
- Polyester and other low-cost, low-quality fabrics that disintegrate quickly and are discarded after only a few uses.
As a result of the drive to decrease costs and shorten production times, environmental corners are cut in the name of profit. The use of low-cost, poisonous textile dyes is one of fast fashion’s negative consequences.
Manufacturers and retailers themselves in the fashion industry produce clothing waste that takes up nearly 5% of all landfill space worldwide. Clothing manufacturers overproduce supplies, retailers overstock, and the unsold inventory is thrown away to landfills as seasons change.
The fashion sector overproduces items by 30-40% each season, which accounts for around 10% of global carbon emissions, and is the world’s second worst polluter of water and plastic pollution. The plastic fibres in our clothing eventually contribute to microplastic contamination in our seas, which harms marine life and accelerates climate change.
Due to the rapid rate at which textiles are created, customers are discarding an increasing number of clothing, resulting in a massive volume of textile waste. The average Canadian tosses away 81 pounds of textiles each year, whereas North Americans discard 9.5 million tonnes of textiles each year, the majority of which end up in landfills. Unused textiles and unsold clothing are often discarded in landfills or burnt.
If we tried to recycle clothing waste, it’s crucial to remember that roughly 60% of them aren’t recyclable in the first place, which is why they end up in landfills or are burnt. Plastic is used in several of our textiles. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), often known as polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibres, is one of the synthetic fibres used in clothing. These fibres are made of crude oil, they are practically impossible to reuse in other ways, which means they cannot be recycled or compounded, ending up in landfills.
Why do manufacturers and retailers in the fashion industry continue to perpetuate the cycle of overproduction of clothes, other textiles, and continue to use plastic fibres when there are more environmentally friendly materials available? All these factors have a negative impact on the planet and human population, making the fashion industry contribute to clothing waste and a major polluter.
Tips to Reduce Clothing Waste
- Avoid fast fashion companies. Instead try buying second hand or support more sustainable and eco-friendly brands.
- Buy less clothing. Try buying quality pieces that you will use and that will last a long time, instead of buying poorer quality clothing.
- Donating your clothes is a lot better than throwing them away; however, clothing that is donated may still end up in landfills. Make sure all donated clothing is in very good condition. If your clothing is damaged a better solution is upcycling.
- You can upcycle your clothes in so many different ways. Old fabric can be used to make new clothes, bags, napkins, rags, masks, decorations, and so much more! The possibilities are endless!
- Repair your clothing instead of replacing it. Today, once clothes get a hole or a stain in them people are so quickly to replace or throw them out. Instead, try repairing clothing with a simple needle or thread, cover holes with different fabric patches, and or upcycle them into something new.
All the information that I used was from these websites linked. If you want to find out even more information check out: https://healthyhumanlife.com/blogs/news1/what-is-fast-fashion, https://goodonyou.eco/what-is-fast-fashion/, and https://calpirg.org/blogs/blog/cap/fashion-industry-waste-drastically-contributing-climate-change