What is Fast Fashion? & 5 ways to Avoid It!

By Dearbhla Richardson

So, what is Fast Fashion?

Oxford dictionary’s definition of fast fashion is as follows; inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. 

What that means is huge business’ creating new clothing in bulk, every time there is a shift in the market.

 These businesses’ are usually large corporations that make their money through exploiting people (usually through exploiting people of colour in developing nations). 

Take Mahmud Kamani for example. Kamani owns Boohoo, a large online shopping site. Kamani has recently come under fire for paying British workers as little as £3.50 (€3.84) an hour, and for disregarding social distancing rules within his company. All the while, producing hypocritical t-shirts with slogans like “stay home” “lockdown” and “2020 is canceled”. 

People were outraged to discover that people were being treated so horribly by Boohoo, and justly so! 

However, if this is how Kamani treats his staff in the U.K. one can only begin to imagine how his staff in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are treated. 

Many Fast-Fashion companies outsource to Developing Nations, to lower production costs. In 2013, one thousand, one hundred and twenty-nine people died in a Bangladesh factory collapse (Rana Plaza building). To put that into perspective, it is just over four hundred people less than those who died aboard the Titanic. 

Nevertheless, if you ask a teenager from Cork about the Titanic, they will have several comments, and might even be able to rattle off a few names of those who died, but if you asked that same teenager about the collapse of the Bangladesh Factory in 2013, they likely will have never heard of it. Despite the collapse being seven years ago the Titanic is fresher in people’s minds. 

How do we avoid it?

In order to avoid Fast Fashion, I think visualizing how the product was made can be very helpful in reminding you why you shouldn’t purchase from said company.

 Say, for example, I was walking into Penney’s and upon entering the building I saw garment-workers being abused by their managers. I then saw the product I wanted, and instead of coming to that garment- worker’s aid, I instead stepped over them to pick up the product and paid their manager the money for said product. By buying from Fast- Fashion retailers, that is the industry you are supporting. 

To give that some context, the t-shirt you are buying for €3, could have been made by somebody who has died, from the way it was made, and the inhumane treatment of Garment workers. 

Fast fashion items are usually cheap and not made to last long. Instead look for good quality, long lasting clothes from reputable brands. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

 Children are as young as 6 or 7 years old when they start working at a sweatshop for up to 16 hours per day. 

There are many fast-fashion alternatives, an incredible upside to these alternatives, is that a lot of them are sustainable! Here are our 5 fast fashion alternatives:

  1. Upcycling for one is incredibly useful. Save clothes from landfills by repurposing them!! I have three wonderful tops that I made out of old pairs of ripped leggings and tights if you have anything repurposed like this please leave a comment below!! 
  2. Second-hand clothing shops, North Main Street in Cork City is full of these hidden gems! We have a St. Vincent De Paul clothing shop down in Ticknock and an NCBI shop down on East Beach. 
  3. Vintage Clothing can get incredibly expensive, however there is a Facebook page called Peach Vintage, which is full of affordable, beautiful vintage clothing. 
  4. Depop and Nu Wardrobe are clothing sites, Depop is where you can sell your second-hand clothing, and Nu Wardrobe is a site in which you can exchange clothing, but get it back afterward!! 
  5. Sustainable sites such as Lucy and Yak, Know the Origin, People Tree, Brothers We Stand, By Laura Ella, Shelf Lyfe, and many more!!

Understandably kids grow fast, there aren’t always second-hand options available, and we must never victimize those who cannot afford to shop sustainably. Everyone is on their own sustainable journey. 

If you are purchasing from a Fast Fashion retailer, try to purchase things in physical shops rather than online as I recently discovered to my utmost horror that a lot of clothing, if returned online, will be incinerated rather than returned to the shelf, out of convenience to them. 

I know a lot of people aren’t aware of this waste, but hey, we all start somewhere. 

And if you can, Start now. x

Find more tips for your home here!

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