In today’s world, one buying habit has surpassed all others: overconsumption. Whether it’s for food, which we produce endlessly only to waste a good part of it, or for clothing with fast fashion, our consumerism model is shaped to buy and consume more and more.
The reasons behind this are the quick response supply chain, very clever marketing techniques, and most recently, the overuse of social media. Fast fashion clothing has become very accessible to many and trends are fast changing, its production has doubled in the last 20 years. Fast fashion brands such as Zara or H&M can release from 12 to 24 collections a year.
Fast fashion clothing is meant to be worn a few times only before it is disposed of like old rags. Months-old rags! And as you can imagine, all of this production and consumption comes at an environmental cost: an estimated 5 billion pounds of waste are generated each year just through returns, and some textiles used can take years to biodegrade if not recycled properly.
But then, why do we buy fast fashion?
That's a great question and we believe the answers are important to be known and understood before trying to fix fast fashion with tips. This way, part of the tips will be easier to apply. Here are 4 reasons why people buy fast fashion.
1. Fast fashion is the easiest solution
First of all, fast fashion is very affordable and accessible. Did you ever think about how simple it is today to buy a piece of clothing just by going to your nearest mall? Trends and Fashion Week “its items” are now at your fingertips in less time than ever before and for only a fraction of the price.
Even ordering online now comes with ease and lots of benefits: free and express delivery for some websites, continuous sales and promotions, and the possibility to return products very easily.
Modern consumers are looking for simplicity, convenience, affordability, and accessibility: everything fast fashion can offer nowadays.
2. Fast fashion provides endless styles to choose from
A greater choice of style can be a good thing to express oneself through fashion, but only if done with respect for our planet and the hardworking people producing our clothes.
But fast fashion gives you the opportunity to change styles just like your mood switches at the expense of our environment. A rapid production inspired by the latest online trends added to the social pressure to keep up with those trends makes us want to be always on top of our fashion game.
The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) can hit us and impact our buying and consuming habits just like it can have an effect on other aspects of our lives, like our social media use.
3. The fake friend, social media
Social media is at the heart of many reasons why we over-consume fast fashion. Our fashion choices are being influenced on a daily basis with celebrities wearing up to several outfits a day (we see you Kim K!). Brands are now collaborating more than ever with those “influencers” to push their products in front of new audiences, and followers, who are very likely to become new consumers.
The peer pressure coming from social media is also incredibly impactful in our buying habits, as you would rarely see someone post their outfits twice and be an “outfit repeater”! Then, to not be judged or ostracized, we buy the latest releases of our favorite fast fashion platform or brand to post and boast about on our socials and keep this toxic cycle going.
4. Lack of awareness of the problems of fast fashion
Still, not enough people are informed about the issues of fast fashion. In a previous blog about the definition of fast fashion, we were talking about issues such as water and land pollution, exploitation of factory workers, textile waste, and energy consumption.
Fast fashion brands will of course never benefit from talking openly about those issues and will tend to swipe them under the rug. Transparency, honest communication, and monitoring are lacking in the fast fashion world. Well, then: how would the consumer know?
What age group buys the most fast fashion?
It is the youngest people that are consuming fast fashion the most: nearly half of Gen-Z (18-23 yo) admit to shopping fast fashion more than once a week, followed by over a quarter of the Millenials (24-30 yo) for the same purchase frequency.
Educating them on the impact of fast fashion today is more than necessary as it is destroying their future world. The polluted forest and water sources might never recover if actions are not taken now.
As parents and consumers, it is our responsibility to watch over younger generations’ buying habits and educate them from a place of care and love.
Our 5 tips to avoid fast fashion
Free yourself from the pressure of being in trend
Find your own style that represents you and your personality, but that will last you for years. Stand out from the crowd, start the change and be proud of yourself. Trends will forever change, but your uniqueness will remain consistent.
Why not take a look at the minimalist wardrobe trend, which is one we fully support and recommend? You’d be surprised to realize how many unused pieces of clothing/items are abandoned in your closet, and how much of an “outfit repeater” you actually are (and that’s not a bad thing!).
Visit your local small businesses
On a more practical level, for the upcoming holiday seasons, go around town and visit your local shops and small businesses instead of going to the mall. You would support your local economy while ensuring original presents that not everyone would receive. Obviously, the price could differ, but the idea is to buy to last and not replace at the next season, and most importantly to stop contributing to making big conglomerates richer while they shamelessly destroy our planet.
Shop with a clear idea in mind
Always go shopping with a list of items and products you ACTUALLY want and need. Indecisive consumers are the perfect target for fast fashion marketing campaigns. In order to avoid this, try to go shopping and spend with purpose and intention. This way, you won’t let yourself be distracted by flash promos and hot deals.
Swap clothes with a group of friends, and shop in thrift shops or second-hand stores
Vintage is in again, so why not jump on that trend? You can also make the most out of the life of your clothes by exchanging them with friends and family, donating them, or selling them to your local thrift shops and second-hand stores. Once again, that would be the perfect opportunity to maintain your originality and uniqueness through fashion without adding to the endless waste fash fashion is producing each year.
Make your own products (when possible)
The recent world events over the last 2 years that saw us being stuck at home have inspired some to go get that old sewing machine from the attic and get creative. Creating your own clothing by recycling old pieces is one of the best ways to counter fast fashion’s toxic effects on our planet. Even as a beginner, and for those who like the challenge, how satisfying would it be to successfully create a dress or a shirt from scratch?
Let’s make a difference on this fast fashion issue
We hope this blog series has been eye-opening and has given you precious information on the issues of fast fashion.
How present is fast fashion in your life right now? Are you ready to make a change and apply at least one of our 5 tips to avoid fast fashion?