As I mentioned last week, I’m writing one of my term papers on the website LOOKBOOK.nu. Through my analysis of the website in the context of global communication, I’ve come across some disturbing figures and have become more educated about the fast fashion industry.
Fast fashion: Retail structure that moves (rips off?) designs from catwalk to shopping mall as soon as possible to stay up-to-date with trends. These trends are designed and manufactured quickly and cheaply to allow the mainstream consumer to take advantage of current clothing styles at a lower price.
Examples: H&M, Zara, Top Shop, Forever 21, etc.
Some of the most shocking figures from my research:
1. An estimated 13.1 million tons of clothing is disposed of annually.
2. Some of these retailers produce upwards of 10,000 unique items per year.
3. Many of the people who produce these clothes (in horrible conditions) are females that are the same age as the target market of these retailers.
4. Donating isn’t as great an option as you’d think – many thrift stores simply can’t handle the huge quantities of donations (or move the merchandise fast enough) and end up disposing of many items.
5. If you still feel laissez faire about it all: “Some of the world’s best known fashion retailers are selling clothing contaminated with hazardous chemicals that break down to form hormone-disrupting or cancer-causing chemicals when released into the environment,” (read more here).
This holiday season (and Black Friday) think before you shop. I know how hard it can be, how much you can save, and how guilty I am of scouring the racks at these stores.
I’m going to try to be more conscious when shopping this season and in the future to help me keep a clear conscience. Although I can’t promise I’ll never make another unethical purchase, I can promise to explore other (local, second-hand) options first and be more educated about the stores where I’m spending my money. If I find myself lured by the slashed prices and sparkly trends I’ll be looking for natural fibers that will decay.
The holidays are about appreciation, love, and caring. Let’s try to make our purchases reflect these values.