Let’s try to understand what’s behind the fast fashion that is talked about so much when it comes to sustainability
When it comes to sustainable fashion, fast fashion is often mentioned: but what is it? What does it mean for workers and the environment? And why would it be good to avoid it? Here is an explanation as easy as possible.
Fast fashion e slow fashion
Fast fashion literally means “fast fashion”: fast because it is conceived, designed, industrialized, sold, consumed and finally, unfortunately too often, thrown away very quickly. Fast compared to what? Compared to fashion that today is called slow, that is, slow. In reality, if we think about it, slow fashion was the normal way of consuming fashion until about twenty years ago.
Fast fashion: what has changed over time?
Until the 2000s, fashion consumption was completely different than it is today. The clothing brands (not only the luxury ones: all brands) created two collections a year, ready-to-wear four. There was that spring summer and that autumn winter. In the middle, for some luxury brands, there was the Cruise collection, or “cruise”, which was a special small collection presented in spring and sold in winter, dedicated to those who spent the cold months in hot and summer locations.
Shopping was therefore seasonal: you bought what you would need at the beginning of the season and at the sales, then at the end of the season, you took off any whims. The garments were bought to be worn all season: if among you there are Millennials or those born before the 80s, if you think about it, it didn’t happen to go around the center and go home every week with a bag with a shirt inside. or trousers.
With the arrival of fast fashion brands, the use of fashion has changed radically, to the point of changing the planning and production of luxury brands, which have had to adapt and run after the timing of the fast fashion giants. Fast fashion has begun to offer collections no longer every six months, but every month, until it reaches a new collection every week, to offer something always new to the public, stimulating them to buy more and more.
Fast fashion: what does fast production imply?
Conceiving a garment and putting it on a shelf at this speed involved a series of changes in production: it was necessary to shorten times, rationalize logistics, lower production costs. The goal of these companies is not to make their garments last: their garments must satisfy an impulse purchase and stimulate a new impulse to purchase with each passage in front of the windows. It must be said that a key role in this process has also been played by influencers, who have exploded in recent years, whose job, basically, is precisely to push the consumer to purchase.
Reduction in the cost of raw materials
To reduce the costs of a fashion that must always be fresh and ready to use, where could it be cut? First of all on the raw material: the fabrics. If in a slow fashion the fabric is made to last at least one season, in a fast fashion, this doesn’t matter anymore: it just needs to withstand a couple of washes, because soon there will be a new garment to replace the “old” one. So here are increasingly thin cottons, synthetic fibers, mixed fibers, which peel and deteriorate very quickly with wear, dyes that do not hold or are even toxic. What we underestimate, however, is that these toxic elements then end up on our skin, resulting in irritation, dermatitis and the like (and this applies to both adult and children’s clothing).
Reduction of the cost of labor
Where else can you cut? On labor, delocalizing production to countries where it is cheap. It matters little that this low cost corresponds to working conditions similar to slavery, in unhealthy, not to say toxic environments. The end result is a low price for the final buyer.
Fast fashion: the effects on our way of thinking
The most immediate effect was making us perceive fast fashion as a “bargain”: we paid very little for that t-shirt, what a bargain! But let’s put together all that we spent on the alleged “business” worn twice: the bill at the end of the year is not at all insignificant and maybe it would correspond to two or three items (if not more) made in Italy and of good quality. This led us to think that slow fashion is expensive and made us think that it was not worth investing in a garment: what sense does it make if I can replace it with very little expense?
Fast fashion: the effects on our planet
Multiply this attitude on a global scale: the result is mountains, literally mountains, of waste, of garments that are given away as second hand, in the belief that they serve the poor of the third world. Well, the news is that the third world is literally flooded with our polyester rags, which can’t even be recycled. On the topic of textile waste, there is much more to say: maybe I keep the idea for another post.
Fast fashion: let’s learn to live without… because it’s possible!
I did the test on myself and I told it extensively on my blog: living without fast fashion is possible and indeed, you will find that you can even live better, love more what you buy, enjoy it to the fullest, using it for years, until you even regret throwing it away when exhausted. Try asking yourself if you really need what you are about to buy. If the answer is no, give up: make a gesture that is useful not only to the planet, but also to yourself!