How Fast is Fashion?
In a series of fast fashion truths, Lucy Aylmer examines the problematic cultural changes fuelling fast fashion
Fast Fashion is defined as consumers purchasing readily available trendy clothes, typically cheap replications of the styles seen on catwalks. It sounds like an egalitarian clothing utopia, with catwalk designs no longer an exclusive luxury for the rich, and instead cheap replicas can be consumed at a fraction of the cost. Everyone’s happy, right? The rich can still purchase catwalk designs and the less rich can afford cheaper alternatives. The thrill of finding your perfect dress appears to be a certain reality that is not confined to wealth; a gap in the market has been filled sufficiently.
Fashion retailers and e-tailers like Zara, Boohoo and Pretty Little thing all subscribe to rapid collection turnovers and huge clothing production lines to keep up with changing trends as decreed by catwalks. In Europe, fashion companies went from an average offering of two collections per year in 2000 to five in 2011, with Zara contributing an astonishing 24 collections. Alongside the growing output of clothing production is an effervescent hunger for new garments. According to McKinsey data, in 2014, people bought 60% more garments than they did in 2000.
“In the past 15 years, clothing production has doubled to meet the rocketing demands”
The outcome of fast fashion is clearly a success for those benefiting from its efficacious returns. However, the moral and environmental intricacies of fast fashion are deeply alarming. From the contamination of water supplies in cotton production to the associated throw away culture, fast fashion is tarnished with the outcomes of 21st century lifestyles. In the past 15 years, clothing production has doubled to meet the rocketing demands. Regardless of its bad reputation, it is still widely popular, so how can fast fashion be such a dirty word with so many passive players involved in its construction?
Arguably, globalisation is a major player in fast fashion. Connections have made us aware of what’s available and have increased our propensity to want more. Effectively, we are kids in a candy shop; there is so much on offer that its tempting to consume more than necessary.
“Influencers like Kim Kardashian remind us regularly of what we don’t have and what we could have, which can give rise to more frequent purchases”
The rise of the internet has accommodated for 24/7 shopping, and social media platforms like Instagram serve to tempt our desires for excessive consumption. Influencers like Kim Kardashian remind us regularly of what we don’t have and what we could have, which can give rise to more frequent purchases. Cultural forces are changing our shopping habits with more frequent purchases and greater availability of styles, fabrics and designs.
Fast fashion is a conflicted issue; it clearly accommodates for our insatiable appetite towards consumerism, but holds little regard for the socially conscious minds of millennials.