Is Fast Fashion Speeding Down The Highway To Hell?

Once upon a time (that truthfully wasn’t all too long ago), I was the fast-fashion industries best friend. Yes, I am guilty of being ‘that girl’. You know the one, let me set the scene. The girl who is on first name basis with the delivery-man because she always has a new parcel in the mail, the girl with the bursting wardrobe complete with unworn garments that still have the tags attached.

Petrified of being labelled an “Outfit Repeater” by the likes of Kate Sanders, I justified my excessive consumerist behaviour. Tricked into the illusion that I needed a new outfit for every event, I’d buy cheap and nasty clothes that couldn’t possibly have been stitched by workers on a fair wage and rarely made it to the end of the year. Turns out I’m not alone, according to a study by YouGov, 75% of Australians have thrown away clothes within the last year.
I told myself that I just loved clothes, that surely, because I didn’t eat meat, used a keep cup and a reusable drink bottle that I was allowed to put down shopaholic as my personal enviro vice. Flawed logic I know. Good thing there is only so long you can justify bad behaviour. Finally, in 2017 I listened to my better judgement and decided to become not only an outfit-repeater but a more responsible shopper. I guess the steady hum of slow sustainable fashion grew too loud for me to ignore.
Since the 20th century humans have been consuming at an increasing rate. Our wardrobes and environmental footprint is expanding at a level that dear Mother nature cannot keep up with.
For example, fashion is thirsty work. Every year the fashion industry uses 79 billion cubic meters of water. In Australia alone, we throw away 500,000 tonnes of fashion waste yearly. Our used tees and jeans are piling up with nowhere to go.
It doesn’t only cost the environment. One of the biggest problems of fashion boils down to off-shore manufacturing. When placed in a highly competitive industry businesses are left with a tough choice; Get Ethical, or Get Cheap. Most choose the latter and compete with each other to get products made at the cheapest prices. Cheap manufacturing is obviously ideal for every business model; however, it comes with a cost – a human cost.
According to Greenpeace it is estimated that in 2025 the fashion industry will be worth over $2.1 trillion. The fashion industry continues to exploit its workers who are predominately from developing countries. In 2017 a report by the Global Fashion Agenda revealed that more than 50% of workers within the fashion industry are not even paid a minimum wage.
Personally I don’t think there is a dress in the world worth the cost of another’s livelihood.
I must admit that occasionally I slip up and buy a tee from one of the not-so friendly fast fashion giants but I am proud to be a more conscious shopper now. Ok maybe I’m jumping the gun a little too soon. Fast fashion isn’t speeding out of our lives and into oblivion. Fast fashion is definitely still immensely present in our lives, however, the growing number of small sustainable fashion labels joining our closets gives me hope for a greener fashion future.
Join the conversation, what do you think the future holds for fast fashion?