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Why you need to say “no” to fast fashion clothing

Fast fashion is a global epidemic that has plagued mainstream clothing for years. The term “fast fashion” refers to clothing retailers quickly replicating popular clothing, and inexpensively mass producing replicas of popular styles. Brands capitalize on fashion trends and pump out cheap clothing to match expanding consumer demand. Retailers put newly fashionable clothes on shelves for consumers, and quickly remove items that fall out of favor, keeping products in an endless rotation.

This process has proven to be immensely profitable in most circumstances. Some of the greatest perpetrators of fast fashion are mall staple brands like Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, Forever21, and Victoria’s Secret. However, these issues aren’t exclusive to this type of store.

They can even be traced to retailers such as Target and Walmart. Online fast fashion retailers such as Shein and ASOS have also been exploding in popularity over the last few years. To give you an idea of just how “fast” this fashion truly is, it’s been reported that Shein and ASOS release THOUSANDS of new “styles” per week.

There are two main factors. Price, and convenience. For one thing, the clothing that fast fashion brands sell costs moderately to significantly less than higher-quality alternatives.

Also, fast fashion brands are super convenient since most American’s have access to typical shopping malls. These two elements perfectly intersect with one another. It makes sense that these brands are so popular. Consider that the average American consumer is price-conscious, obsessed with convenience, and generally unwilling to put much of that time into shopping for clothes.

Sure, there are some aspects of this phenomenon that you could consider beneficial. For instance, this trend generally allows people with very tight budgets to find clothes they like.

Kids and teenagers may not necessarily beg their parents to buy them the newest, “coolest,” overpriced crappy brand that “everyone else” is wearing. Consumers have more access to a wider variety of clothes, for a more reasonable price than ever.

However, you will find that these “benefits” are FAR outweighed by the numerous issues associated with fast fashion. Supporting fast fashion brands fuel fires. Fires that have many woes in terms of human rights issues, and negative environmental impact. Here are a couple of the many reasons why you should say “no” to fast fashion.

Fast fashion clothing is horrible for the planet

Have you ever purchased something from a fast fashion retailer, then gone back for the same product only to find that it’s nowhere to be found? If you have, you aren’t alone.

Since a major part of the fast fashion phenomenon is constant clothing turnover, clothes leave the shelves very quickly, and sometimes well before the products are sold out. This quick turnaround time yields a specific question. What do they do with all those clothes that don’t sell?

The answer is not something you want to hear. Most of the time, they simply throw them away and flood landfills with unsold clothes. Some retailers are even known or rumored to burn unused clothes. According to the EPA, over 9 million tons of clothes and footwear were sent to landfills in 2018.

Although fast fashion is not the only contributor to this issue, it is a major part of this increased wastefulness. It’s not only because the introduction of new products and removal of old ones is fast and constant.

It is also because the quality of a fast fashion product is typically very poor, and must be discarded much quicker than more quality clothing. Retailers are okay with selling super cheap clothes because it costs them very little to make cheap clothes, and they know that you are going to need more down the road.

If that isn’t enough, just remember that it’s highly unlikely to find fast fashion retailers that have organic, sustainable, or responsibly sourced clothes. Most fast fashion retailers make clothes made from cheap, earth-unfriendly fabrics and materials.

Despite most clothing production being wasteful by nature, it is safe to say that fast fashion is the worst due to non-sustainable clothes, and the high volume of wasted clothing. This fashion trend is ripping through the environment by mass-producing cheap clothing, and there is no silver lining in how the industry treats its workers either.

Brands are often awful to workers

For years, it has been well documented that the garment and clothing industry has subjected its manufacturers to unfair, unsafe working conditions.

This is mostly because about 90 percent of the world’s clothing comes from low to low-middle-income countries, where labor is extremely cheap, and working standards are loose and unenforced.

Fast fashion, unsurprisingly, is one of the greatest culprits of this phenomenon. Companies are able to sell their clothes for so much less than competitors because they get them from manufacturers for next to no money. The pitfalls of the newest fashion trend, engendered by cheap clothing know no bounds.

It’s impossible to overstate the constant human rights violations associated with the Chinese garment industry. However, these human rights issues span far across the world and aren’t solely a Chinese issue. The vast majority of total major brands have next to no transparency regarding whether or not their suppliers are paid living wages.

So why do American consumers purchase clothes from companies with these labor practices? Americans have known about labor issues in developing countries for decades, so why do we continue to show exploitative companies support? It is because, again, we are far more concerned with price and convenience than we are with quality and fairness.

Some companies have even had major issues with their US based employees as well. The US Department of Labor found that a Los Angeles-based clothing manufacturer that made clothing for fast fashion mogul Forever 21 was operating under “sweatshop-like conditions.”

They reportedly broke several labor laws, including, but not limited to, withholding wages and paying workers flat rates for 50+ hour work weeks. Not only that, but Forever 21 is also part of a class-action lawsuit by store associates who claimed that they were consistently forced to work off the clock, and not compensated for the extra hours worked.

Forever 21 is far from the only fast fashion retailer with accusations like this. Countless others have faced similar accusations. Fast fashion harbor’s an attitude of carelessness. Obsession with their bottom lines no matter who gets hurt or neglected along the way.

Buy less, buy better

If you take one thing away from this article it should be this: buy better.

You are helping nobody when you support fast fashion retailers. Buying their clothes supports environmental irresponsibility, human rights issues, and overall shady business practices.

Not only that, but the clothes are awful. Ask yourself whether it’s worth it to buy cheap clothes that you will have to replace. You may end up spending more money in total on cheap clothes than good quality ones.

You are so much better off paying more money for fewer, more quality clothing. Have the clothes you buy become staples of your wardrobe.

Buy clothes from companies with a firm commitment to quality. Support retailers who pledge supply chain transparency. Stop buying crap from the mall. It’s horrible for everyone.

The art to a sustainable wardrobe: Budget your style out

As we work towards our entrepreneurial goals, we must maintain our sartorial presentation keeping the regards high on our brands. It is worth our savings to have a sustainable wardrobe, focusing on the art of our style budget, rather than just copping the most expensive drip.

Getting on a budget comes with discipline and a keen eye for savings. Regardless of your style, budgeting a frugal fit will fare no fluster.

There are many influencers who you can follow to get in touch with your stylish side. Whether if you have expensive taste or short on funds currently, you can create and curate your sustainable wardrobe, focused on the art of your style budget.

A healthy budget promotes sustainability

Maintaining a healthy fashion budget is simply sustainable and will become easier to maintain wardrobe waste in the future.

You’ll always find yourself purchasing items you only love and keep in great condition for years to come. Your sustainable wardrobe ultimately becomes a closet on Grailed, where you can make some money for your taste.

This is not the time to open a credit card, order sign up for a monthly subscription on an e-commerce fashion platform. Style is about dressing precisely how you like – only what you love, and impressing even yourself.

Fashion statements are made through the art of budget and style, and that should be the focus.

Some of these stylists and style influencers have detailed and chronicled their fashion journeys enough that we can pull the thread on their quilt and reveal their secrets.

Fashion influencers set the tone for the art of properly maintaining a style budget

Goodfair is a new online platform that offers second-hand clothing in bundles which is a fun and great way to get a variety of styles at a flat rate.

They offer bundles from back-to-school packages to a denim-themed box set. The fun part is no item is the same from customer to customer.

Starting at fast-fashion shops seems like the obvious choice. Their omnipresence and accessibility make them no-brainers for basics and filler pieces.

It is best not to spend too much time here as you fall victim to the weekly style turnovers they enforce. You should be wise to buy quality garments, perhaps working your way up to name brands you couldn’t normally afford. 

Sustainable wardrobes demand quality garments

A sustainable wardrobe means balancing smart style with garments that will last a long time.

There are in-demand retail department stores like H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo who have all made efforts to produce on a circular scale in the coming years.

Other retailers offer a variety of basics to fill in any statement fashion piece in your closet. Richer Poorer, Express, Urban Outfitters, Pacsun are some of the styles havens that you can be creative at and not spend more than $100.

Online sellers like Asos, ThredUp, Depop, and Poshmark have items you can choose from new and used pieces on some of these platforms. There will be items that you will gravitate toward.

The idea is to find the garments that speak to you. Besides Asos, the other online retailers are acting as second-hand markets. Asos will be great to find something to highlight your thrift-aesthetic.

Consider buying unique styles from unique sellers. Dig into apparel from your favorite museums like The Guggenheim or MoMA.

Or perhaps your favorite artists, like Quiana Parks, or Preston Thompson, or local meatball shop for cool and uncommon tees, and sweaters, and hats, that give you street flair and savvy. 

Thrift stores and vintage shops like Buffalo Exchange, L Train Vintage, INA, and Crossroads Trading are places to purchase stand-out, full of showstopper fashion pieces.

Here is where you can up your per-item price, giving yourself room to buy – exactly – what you love. It will be worth it because it will dictate your style moving forward. 

A smart style budget is an art

Getting dressed up is something far from our usual way of living today. Most of us aren’t going to any parties – unless you live in Florida – and we have fewer daily commutes to work.

As we move toward spring, it’s only natural that we want to get out and show off. We all love to get dressed for any occasion, and we find joy in shopping and getting dressed in new clothes.

Most importantly, when you style yourself on a budget well, the experience of wearing clothing is a confidence booster, and that art is the main component of any look.

Look out for this post on PAGE magazine.

ASOS just launched their first-ever circular fashion collection

London-based e-commerce fashion brand ASOS has launched its first-ever circular sustainable collection. The 29 piece collection is co-signed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. And the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, a part of London College of Fashion.

Photo courtesy of ASOS.
Photo courtesy of ASOS.

Asos Circular

Back in 2018, ASOS made a commitment at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit to re-train all ASOS designers. The plan was to create a circular product ready for production by 2020.

Copenhagen has already committed to mandate brands to meet 17 sustainable points by 2023. In this case, ASOS has made an 8 point system for the design and production of these 29 pieces. 

Photo courtesy of ASOS.
Photo courtesy of ASOS.

“With all of our designers now trained in circular principles and our first circular collection out the door, we’re excited to see how we can take this project forward and use our size and scale to share our expertise with our suppliers but also other brands and retailers.” 

Vanessa Spence, Head of Design at ASOS

Photo courtesy of ASOS.
Photo courtesy of ASOS.

Some products include oversized cardigans, denim with washes, tees, etc. Additionally, dresses are designed and styled in the trendy 90s fashion and tailored for today’s 20-something-year-old.

Furthermore, acid washes, wolf-tooth and micro prints infused into garments, accessories like sterling silver jewelry, bum-bags. All add to the minimal aesthetic of the design.

Photo courtesy of ASOS.
Photo courtesy of ASOS.


Each piece has also met two of the three foundations of a circular economy. That was established by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and their Make Fashion Circular campaign.

These include designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. The idea behind this collection is to create fashion that has a longer life. And that can be re-fabricated as necessary after the life cycle with the customer.

Photo courtesy of ASOS.
Photo courtesy of ASOS.

Head of ASOS design, Spence, says, “We’ve been on an incredible journey in ASOS over the past few years to discover how circular design can work in practice in an organization like ASOS. And working closely with our suppliers to apply the circular design principles that we’ve set ourselves.”

Photo courtesy of ASOS.
Photo courtesy of ASOS.

With this new collection of circular fashion, ASOS is encouraging its 23 million active customer base to create a sustainable wardrobe. They also want to foster a textile industry aware of the waste produced by the fashion industry. And also create viable solutions through design.

Photo courtesy of ASOS.
Photo courtesy of ASOS.

Spence has hopes for this collection as it “shows that you don’t need to choose between the circular economy and fashion. And that you can make sustainable products without compromising on design or price.”

Photo courtesy of ASOS.
Photo courtesy of ASOS.

A feature on each garment tag will soon be a QR code where customers scan to visit and learn more about how each product is made. Along with ASOS’s circular design principles.

Look out for this article on PAGE magazine.