During my first semester at Ryerson University I was introduced to a documentary called The True Cost. This movie was directed by Andrew Morgan and talks about the safety concerns of garment factories, the insanely low wages of the workers, as well as the tremendous environmental impact of the fast fashion industry. It’s fairly easy to make me cry, but somehow I managed to keep my composure throughout the entire lecture and most of the film. On my way home I felt incredibly sad and helpless.
Fast fashion is a term used by fashion retailers. It refers to the quick movement of designs from catwalk to storefront. This process makes current fashion trends available at a very low price. Zara, Forever 21 and H&M are some of the most famous (and most common) fast fashion retailers. They put out massive amounts of clothing with new designs almost weekly. Now, most of us don’t even know what fast fashion means, or why it might be a bad thing. I have to admit that a very large percentage of my own closet is currently from H&M. It was convenient to shop there and (most importantly) within my budget, but having watched The True Cost has really changed my perspective on fast fashion retailers.
I know that seeing a shirt for $6 may not seem like a horrible thing, but it actually really is. The only way a fast fashion retailer can offer a shirt for $6 is if the people making it don’t get paid the amount they deserve. Of course, nobody would ever want to spend $30 for the same shirt. But if a shirt only costs $6, it’s also very disposable. This means that fast fashion contributes to the rapidly growing amount of clothes that are thrown out every year. You may be buying items for cheaper prices, but you’re also buying a larger quantity of them. And let’s be honest, most of the time we’re not even buying the item, we’re buying the instant gratification it gives us and the feeling of excitement of having something new.
Fashion Designer Carissa McCaig sewing a new garment that is meant to last.
Fast fashion has us convinced that we need more, and that what’s cool this summer won’t be cool again next summer. This just isn’t true. With styles and trends changing so quickly, the quality and lifespan of our clothing has also decreased. I’m not writing any of this to make you feel guilty, because I myself have fallen into the arms of fast fashion. I simply want to make you aware of the issue, and hopefully you’ll want to contribute to its change. I don’t know about you, but I’m currently wearing an outfit from 3 summers ago and feel incredibly fashionable. Don’t let fast fashion tell you what to wear. Happy Sunday!