What is Fast Fashion?

Patagonia uses recycled materials to try to be as sustainable as they can.

Photo/Amanda Miller

Patagonia uses recycled materials to try to be as sustainable as they can.

Amanda Miller, Staff Writer

You walk into Forever 21. Wow! That shirt is only five dollars? You buy it, but within about a week it starts to fall apart and rip, not to mention it isn’t that comfortable. This is because Forever 21 is a fast-fashion brand. Many people haven’t heard of the term “fast fashion.” Luckily, I’m here to tell you what it means. First and foremost, the definition of fast fashion: inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. 

When I think of fast fashion, I think of a small, cramped, and dirty warehouse. Wages are hardly enough to live on, as little as $2.35 an hour. In an article published by The Clean Clothes Campaign, they give an example of how unfairly the workers get paid. 

“In 2018, the England Soccer team embellished their tee shirts with a well-known sportswear logo.” They were sold to fans for 180 euro ($211.52 USD) while the Bangladeshi workers (mostly women and young children) who made them were only paid 2 euro ($2.35 USD) an hour. The fact that these are the people who make our clothes for us and they get paid next to nothing is disheartening. 

Not only is fast fashion bad for the workers, but it is also bad for the Earth. Corporations are killing our only home for profit. According to Earth.org, the fashion industry is the second largest consumer industry of water. One cotton tee shirt requires 700 gallons of water. One pair of jeans requires 2,000 gallons of water. The article also states that textile dyeing is the world’s second-largest water polluter.

So you may be asking yourself: “What are we supposed to do about it?” Well, one of the most important things you can do is buy more sustainable fabrics. If you can’t afford that, you can shop at thrift stores, or you can even upcycle your old clothes. The website GoodOnYou.com allows you to search for any brand you can think of and see how sustainable it is on a scale of “Not doing enough” to “Great.” You may be surprised by some of the things you find! 

Cotton is not environmentally friendly to produce. Despite that, it is one of the most commonly used fabrics in the fast fashion industry. One of the biggest challenges for clothing brands is to figure out what fabrics are the best for the planet, and how to make them. Now, let’s talk about more sustainable fabrics: some eco-friendly fabrics are wild silk, organic cotton, linen, hemp, and linen. Hemp is a great option because it is part of the cannabis plant, which does not require much water to grow. 

One of the most important things is the brands that use eco-friendly fabrics. A high-end brand, Ralph Lauren, has announced that it will be using fully sustainable fabrics by 2025. Ralph Lauren is setting the standard for high-end fashion brands by addressing the problem we have. 

In a recent issue of Vogue, there was an article about making the whole industry more sustainable. The planes, trains, and cars used to transport lights, cameras, and models are slowly killing our planet as well as the fashion industry. 

The future of the Earth and sustainable fashion rests in our hands. We all must listen to the science behind climate change. Only then will we be able to truly be sustainable in our everyday lives.