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“Expensive-ish”: Fast Fashion

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

“We want to look expensive-ish”. - Hasan Minhaj, Patriot Act

It’s no secret that people love cheap things. So much so that they’re even willing to sacrifice quality. This is fast fashion.


What is Fast Fashion?

The term “fast fashion” is described as:

inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.”


What’s the Key Word?

Trends. Fast fashion corporations are aware that trends in the modern world are short-lived but profitable. Contrary to the cliche, fast fashion means “Quantity over quality.” Instead of manufacturing high quality clothing (usually designer brands), fast fashion businesses produce off-brand versions of designer brands and sell them for a significantly less price. Pretty genius, huh?


What’s the Problem?

So what’s the problem? Designer brands are experiencing lower sales? Well...that might not be the worst complication caused by fast fashion. According to the HuffPost, individuals all around the world cumulatively consume 80 billion articles of clothing annually. Not only that, but these consumers tend to wear one article of clothing an average of THREE times before disposal. So after being deemed “worn” by the customer, what becomes of the clothing item? Usually, it is disposed of in landfills but as with the majority of waste, it ends up in the ocean. The textile that is most frequently utilized in the fast fashion industry is polyester, which just so happens to be imperishable. In other words, after clothing departs a consumer’s closet, it wreaks havoc on innocent marine life. This textile as well as other microplastics make up about 31% of the plastic pollution in our oceans. Outside of the ocean, polyester also releases 2-3 times more carbon emissions during production than cotton. This causes fashion industries to be responsible for over 10% of carbon emissions globally. From the depths of the oceans to the heights of the sky, fast fashion has no boundaries.

Now, you may be thinking, “I would never fall for those mind games.” Well, you may be surprised. Take a look at a list of prominent fast fashion corporations:

  • Zara

  • H&M

  • Forever21

  • Uniqlo

  • GAP

  • Old Navy

  • Fashion Nova

  • American Apparel

  • Urban Outfitters

  • Shein



What Can YOU Do?

So other than not purchasing from these fast fashion brands, what can you do? Well, there are plenty of small businesses that are struggling to pay their employees and acquire new inventory due to the pandemic. Buyer experiences at small businesses are also very personal and can be so meaningful to small business owners. They know the hardships of entrepreneurship and every purchase means the world to them. Many of these small clothing businesses are also boutiques. Not only do boutiques have gorgeous clothing and unique accessories, they also are significantly more eco-friendly than brands listed above. Instead of stocking extensively on the same cheap product, clothing boutiques have all kinds of different products that you can’t find anywhere else. Due to the varieties of clothing, they’re more than likely to have pieces for every person that walks into the store or clicks on their website link!


In addition to boutiques, thrifting, which has become more popular recently, is also a much better alternative to fast fashion. Usually, thrifting includes the purchasing of cheap clothes from thrift stores and changing the style of the clothing to match your own by cropping, embroidering, tying, or just leaving the article of clothing as it is. Thrifting can be a fun experience whether you go alone or with a group of friends. An additional cool thing about thrift stores is that sometimes, you can find name brand products for more than 70% off of the original price! Many thrifters will also find products, alter them to their preferences and sell them. Whether you’re purchasing from sellers that thrift and sell, or you’re directly buying from the thrift store, the trend of “thrift and flip” is a great way of sustainable shopping and it can also prove to be an outlet for creativity when transforming thrifted items into something contributes to your unique style. After all, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”


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