Fashion has witnessed unprecedented growth over the last 20 years, doubling production while simultaneously cutting garment longevity by half. Overproduction and overconsumption are among the causes for fast fashion’s negative side effects on consumers, the environment, and workers in its factories.
With fashion life cycles shortening and microtrends escalating rapidly, the fashion industry has reshaped consumer aspirations to prioritize affordable yet fashionable clothing over ethical standards and quality clothing. Influencer collaborations, TikTok haul videos, curated Instagram feeds – fashion plays on our insecurities and craving for new trends which leads many young consumers into overconsumption with Zara being visited frequently to buy clothes just to stay in fashion or satisfy #FOMO fears.
Fast fashion companies have long been accused of employing unfair and dangerous factory production methods, paying their workers in countries in the global south less than minimum wages, copying designs from smaller designers, and employing short production cycles in order to produce garments at the lowest possible cost. Unfortunately this results in lower quality garments with increased levels of waste.
Further, fashion is responsible for significant global water pollution due to its use of toxic chemicals when creating garments. It has been estimated that clothing industries account for 10% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to water pollution by producing approximately 20% of textile waste that ends up in landfills (where decomposition can take over 200 years, leaving behind harmful microplastics) or is incinerated.
Fast fashion may have some positive benefits for both consumers and workers alike, as despite its negative connotations it makes shopping easier and has helped democratize fashion – no longer only reserved for those with deep pockets or an eye for fashion.
Fast fashion has made it more affordable for people of modest means to maintain an extensive wardrobe full of stylish yet cost-conscious clothes, which in turn benefits the economy by enabling more people to experience its pleasures without breaking their budgets.
Though fast fashion may appear attractive at first glance, its effects are highly controversial. In this article we will look into both its positive and negative implications on society to determine its true worth as an industry. Given the environmental, social, and economic effects of fast fashion, it is clear that we must alter our shopping behaviors for a fairer, more eco-friendly future. As part of our efforts in supporting ethical movements, we source products from only ethical brands and encourage our readers to do the same. While we may receive commission from any item purchased via this page, editorial decisions remain independent from commercial considerations.