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  • Laksh Katara

Fast Fashion: The High Cost of Cheap Clothes

Updated: Mar 9

The rise of fast fashion has completely transformed the world of clothing. It is the business model of replicating recent catwalk trends and high-fashion designs, mass-producing them at a low cost, and bringing them to retail quickly while demand is at its highest. The term fast fashion is also used generically to describe the products of this business model. 

Fast fashion offers customers both budget-friendly and trendy apparel. Nevertheless, its consequences on labour conditions and the environment are significant and worrisome. This industry's rapid growth has led to adverse effects on the planet, mainly due to its unsustainable production methods and the exploitation of labourers in developing countries. 

A key environmental concern linked to this fashion is the waste it generates. The constant turnover of fast fashion fosters a culture of disposal, where garments are discarded very quickly. With the constant introduction of new styles and trends, consumers are encouraged to buy more clothing than ever before, leading to increased textile waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, textile waste has increased significantly over the years, with an average American generating about 80 pounds of textile waste per year. This waste often ends up in landfills, where it contributes to environmental degradation and pollution. Moreover, the clothes usually involve lots of chemicals and dyes that contaminate water sources and disrupt ecosystems. 

Fast fashion heavily relies on labour in developing countries which raises many ethical questions. Workers in these regions are often women and children who are subjected to long hours, unsafe working conditions, and minimal pay. Such employment practices have been highly criticised for exploiting communities and perpetuating poverty cycles, thus increasing the number of people below the poverty line as well as weakening the economy of the country. 

In conclusion, fast fashion is a double-edged sword. While it offers trendy and affordable clothing, its negative impact on the environment and exploitation of humans is undeniable. The unsustainable production methods contribute to environmental degradation, waste, and social injustice. As consumers, we must be aware of these issues and strive to support more sustainable and ethical practices in the fashion industry. This can be done by opting for quality over quantity, supporting brands that prioritise sustainability and fair labour practices, and advocating for change at both the individual and systemic levels.

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