When I watched The True Cost, a documentary directed by Andrew Morgan, something struck a cord. The movie talked about the safety concerns of garment factories, the unfair wages of the workers, and the environmental impact of the fast fashion industry
as a whole. Now it’s pretty easy to make me cry, but I managed to keep my composure throughout most of the film. When I did finally shed some tears, it was because of something unexpected: fast fashion.
Fast fashion refers to the quick movement of designs from catwalk to storefront, making current fashion trends available almost instantly, and at a much lower price. H&M, Zara and Forever 21 are some of the most commonly mentioned fast fashion retailers, and it’s easy to see why. They are constantly putting out massive amounts of clothing with new designs almost weekly. I will be the first to admit that a very large percentage of my closet is currently from H&M, but since watching The True Cost, I have not bought a single thing from them, and I’m not sure if I ever will again.
While this may not be immediately setting off a red flag, it should, because the only way a shirt can be offered for less than $5 at Forever 21 is if the people making it didn’t get paid fairly for their work. But of course, no one would pay $40 for the same shirt because they know that it’s made of such terrible quality that it will fall apart in a one or two washes, and then they’ll need to go spend another $40 for a new shirt. But hey if it’s only $5, that’s pretty disposable. Meaning fast fashion directly contributes to the continuously growing amount of clothes that is thrown out by consumers and piles up in landfills. Um, no thank you.
In the long run, it’s not even helping your wallet. Though you’re buying things for cheaper prices, you’re also buying a larger quantity of stuff, and more importantly, stuff you don’t need. Half the time, you’re not buying the item, you’re buying the instant gratification it gives you and the short-lived giddy feeling of having something new. I don’t know about you, but my soul doesn’t feel empty enough inside to justify making that decision any longer.
The craziest part of it all is that, unlike the other issues brought up in the film, this one’s pretty damn simple. It’s a direct result of being convinced that we need more, and that what’s cool this summer won’t be cool again next summer. It stems from personal insecurity that our clothes isn’t good enough if it’s not following the trendy styles that’s in stores right now. It’s something we buy into because we want to impress people (and while we’re on the topic, shout-out to all the people who already don’t buy into this).
And that’s only the half of it. Not only does it convince us that we want more, need more, and buy more, but think about all the extra clothing that these companies don’t manage to sell. Where do you think it ends up? Landfills again, of course, where they’re not doing anyone any good. With styles and trends changing so quickly, and the decrease in quality of the clothes, our clothes also has a much smaller lifespan than it used to, and we toss things out the window so we can shop to replace it with something new.
Hearing this literally brought tears to my eyes as I thought about how often I’ve fallen into the arms of seductive fast fashion. I am tired of going shopping just as a way to spend time, and coming home with something I know I won’t want to wear a year from now. I am tired of spending money on things I don’t need, but want so I can feel included in the world’s obsession with the fad. I am tired of opening up my closet and saying “I have nothing to wear” as I stare at heaps of clothes. I want to love what I wear, not only today, but for as long as that quality piece of clothing I bought lasts to serve me.
Fast fashion is not healthy for me, the environment, or my wallet. This relationship is over.
Like so many other movements, saying no to fast fashion is all about having the conversation. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!