Fast fashion. The exact definition is an approach to design, creation, and marketing of clothing that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers. Industries like Forever 21 and H&M are notorious for trendy clothing at an affordable price. This approach to the industry is not only harming the environment with over 15.1 million tons of textile waste created in 2013 alone, but it is also creating an unhealthy “disposable” culture within the fashion industry. How do companies like the aforementioned manage to churn out so many garments at such a low price? One word: Sweatshops. These factories function under inhumane working conditions with hundreds of workers, a majority of them women, making barely livable wages. These industries continue to keep women in developing countries oppressed and dependent on these jobs, which keeps all the stores around the world affordable and in business. Cheap labor jobs is something that continues to plague women in struggling economies and causes a lack of growth and opportunities within their own communities. It is an industry that thrives by taking advantage of women who are at a financial disadvantage and in need of work. Our current fashion industry is built on the backs of women across the world who barely make ten cents a garment. Fortunately, there are many ways to dismantle the fast fashion industry and continue to support these women who are struggling to survive in their economic states. The most frustrating part of this major issue is how simple the solutions are. Buying second-hand, quality clothing lessens the strain on the environment and also creates less of a demand for cheaply made clothing. Donating unwanted clothing, recycling damaged ones, and buying from fair-trade, locally-sourced companies will not only support local business owners, but also help end the ways of cheap fashion and help create a dialogue to defend these women’s rights to a safe, fair, and rewarding work environment.
Post was written by guest writer Sofia Hughes