Do you know why your fast fashion pieces don't suit you perfectly?
22 AUGUST '22
Words by Bilgesu Altunkan
Photo by Ron Lach
We are all elements in fast fashion. How is it? By consuming, not producing. Today, on average, a staggering 100 billion items of clothing are produced each year, that's nearly 14 items for every human being on the planet and on average, clothes are only worn seven times before being discarded.
As Carmen Rios said: if that weren’t shocking on its own, keep in mind that we also buy 60% more clothes than in the year 2000. This leads to ridiculous quantities of textile waste: 18.6 million tonnes of clothing being thrown away around the world, every year. Isn’t it tremendous?
Yes, we all know it’s a lot of garments that we try to consume but cannot consume. Today, users mostly consume clothing as fast as every other consumption object. So they spend what's actually popular quickly. It either goes out of fashion, doesn't fit us, or wears out quickly. Okay but why?
Fast fashion denotes lower-quality, low-priced, mass-produced, and machine-made garments that quickly end up in landfills. If we fix the beginning of fast fashion to the industrial revolution, it will be easier to understand how it developed.
The industrial revolution changed many industries, particularly fashion as people found ways to produce garments quicker and more efficiently. As supply increased, capacities were also expanded. As capacity expanded, the production also increased. As production increased, so did advertising tools for people to buy. People took more and more but no one thought about the end. It looks like an internal loop. If we continue to buy, it will continue to be produced. If it continues to be produced, we will continue to buy. Fast Fashion describes a business model whereas many fashion collections are brought to market as quickly as possible.
The collections are based on the latest trends. These trends are then imitated in the shortest possible time, produced in low quality and at a very low price to shift the items as quickly as possible until the next trend arrives.
Photo by Olya Kobruseva
Okay then know why our fast fashion pieces don't suit us perfectly?
Because in the past, there were dresses that were made according to our bodies, and these were tailor-made by hand. Okay, that was a long time ago. But at least until recently, the products were not of such poor quality. The quality of every product that has been increasing rapidly and becoming popular, especially in recent years, is declining. We can say that not only the products but also many things along with the products are deteriorating rapidly. We don't want to trigger your eco-anxiety, but we also need to address the realities of the industry.
For example, as all of us know or have to know, environmental effects are huge: chemical fibers, such as polyester, are often used in today's fast fashion production. These are bad for the environment, for sure, because these fibers are made from crude oil, which emits significant amounts of CO2 during production. But it doesn’t end there: chemical substances are also responsible for water pollution, earth pollution, or air pollution. There is also the problem of waste. Also, when clothes are washed in the washing machine, these small fibers are released into the oceans as microplastics in huge quantities. And it goes and goes and on. The effect of production doesn’t stop, so let's move forward to another part.
Photo by Cotton bro
Due to ever-shorter production cycles and increasingly demanding delivery times, workers are under enormous pressure too. Massive violations of labor laws are the order of the day. Price competition, and limited room for negotiation on margins and delivery times, intensify the problems. Production companies often have no choice but to take illegal risks – otherwise, they would lose competitiveness, their customers, and their factories.
While the production process has evolved over the years, fashion has also grown. Our communications have also evolved. Rapid production, fast fashion, hyperconsumption of everything after the industrial revolution, and the state of not caring and ignoring are the diseases of our age. Not only clothes, the food we eat, our relationships, and most of our surroundings have become objects of consumption. All of them were quickly spent items of the disposable system that we did not think much about. Thus, many things such as labor, place of production, values, people, and crafts were pushed into the background.
That's why it's important to change what we value and see the truth. Without seeing the impact on the world of the one piece we wear, isn't it just part of popularity to wear it? How many people work on it before a single item is in our closet? When we start to wonder about this, it will be when we see that an outfit that suits us is not in the fast fashion brands.