The Devil Wears… Microtrends?
Fashion trends are constantly shifting and changing and let’s be honest, it’s hard work trying to stay on top of the latest fad or microtrend. The current trend circulating TikTok and Instagram is the Y2K era …cue bedazzled low-rise jeans, graphic mini shirts, and oversized, rose-tinted sunglasses.
Although experimenting with your fashion style can be a fun and exciting experience, there is a downside to these everchanging styles – the desire to purchase items fast and for cheap.
It’s the high demand to stay on trend combined with the ultra-fast-paced, mass production of clothing and the brutal, competitive market to create the most inexpensive items, where fast fashion is born.
In this blog, we will define fast fashion and explore the significant impacts it has on the environment, but don’t worry its not all doom and gloom because we will also touch on how popular fashion brands are breaking this problematic cycle and what you can do to not get caught up on these insatiable trends.
What is fast fashion?
If you’re a fashion fanatic, then you’ve probably heard of the term fast fashion. If not, then let me explain. Fast fashion is a popular term that emerged in recent years to refer to the mass production of cheap, trending clothing that’s often worn once and then disposed of as the next microtrend sets in. (source)
Naturally, this unfeasible mass production combined with the often-short lifespan of clothing has a significant impact on the environment.
The issue of fast fashion.
Fast fashion contributes to a myriad of damaging effects on the environment and awareness of these negative impacts is only the first step to creating change. So, let’s discuss.
Air and water quality
The rag trade industry generates an exuberant amount of water to manufacture clothing items and an even greater amount is required to manufacture and produce textiles. In fact, it is estimated that 79 trillion litres of water are used in the fashion industry every year amounting to 20% of industrial water waste, according to a study.
Toxic textile dyes like disperse, reactive, acid, and azo dyes are commonly used in the fashion industry to achieve deeper colours in cloth. The wastewater produced after using these dyes is then sent to our waterways, polluting the water we drink and damaging marine wildlife. Not to mention, the disposal of wastewater is largely unregulated, so large textile manufacturers are not held accountable for the effects of their appalling actions (source).
The fashion industry is responsible for more C02 emissions than the travelling and maritime industries combined, equating to a total of 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Not surprisingly, the rag trade industry is also responsible for 5% of global emissions.
Clothing brands reversing the stigma.
Now, I did promise that it wouldn’t be all doom and gloom, so let’s get into some more light-hearted news to prevent us all from spiralling into an eco-anxious abyss.
According to a Futerra survey conducted in 2018, 88% of consumers want clothing brands to switch to more sustainable operations. This increasing pressure applied by consumers is forcing popular brands to reverse the stigma on the fashion industry. Here are some clothing brands leading the way in sustainability.
Patagonia’s goal is to incorporate sustainable solutions which mitigate its carbon footprint. Since 1996, Patagonia has been devoted to outsourcing cotton material from organically grown cotton farms, and since then have successfully decreased its wastewater and CO2 emissions by 45%. This season, Patagonia released that 94% of its clothing lines use recycled material, reducing its carbon footprint by 4,300 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
We know that copious amounts of water are used to create clothes, but denim material is notorious for the water usage required to make one pair of jeans. Levi’s is committed to lessening this wastewater and has introduced a Water<Less collection which uses up to 96% less water. Additionally, Levi’s have joined Organic Cotton Accelerator, an organisation that focuses on providing transparent and sustainable cotton, to work towards using 100% sustainably sourced cotton material.
Reformation has introduced a transparency policy, whereby clothing items come with a description and environmental score to assist customers in understanding the impact of the items they buy. This popular brand also uses upcycled and sustainable material to reduce its carbon footprint, as well as provides a service where customers can sell unwanted pieces back to Reformation in exchange for store credit (source).
Read up, Reuse, and Recycle.
You may ask yourself, what can I do to help? Well, don’t worry cause I’ve got you covered. Here are some simple ways you can stop supporting fast fashion brands.
It may sound cumbersome but educating yourself on the sustainability status of your favourite clothing brands is the best place to start…and it doesn’t always have to be boring. There are some great resources which outline how to detect fast fashion. Check these out:
- Eco warrior Princess is a website that publishes all things around environmental sustainability with a web page dedicated to fashion where topics such as the impacts of fast fashion and ways to support sustainable fashion brands are topical points of discussion.
- The Ethical Fashion Podcast focuses on creating an inspiring conversation about ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry. It also includes a broad guest list of experts in the fashion industry to discuss their thoughts on fast fashion and switching to sustainable textile productions.
Create a capsule wardrobe
The concept of a capsule wardrobe is exactly how it sounds – creating a wardrobe that never goes out of style. This idea focuses on persuading consumers to purchase high-quality, timeless basics that go with basically everything in your cupboard, but most importantly, they aren’t part of the current microtrend circulating your socials at that time. Check out how to build an ideal capsule wardrobe here.
Reuse and recycle
If you’re not one to splurge on more expensive items, don’t worry I’ve got you covered. One of the best and cheapest ways to avoid supporting fast fashion brands is to buy second-hand.
If you’re anything like me then you probably catch yourself gawking at trendy passers-by wondering “where the heck they got their vintage clothing from” and when asked often their response is “oh this? It’s thrifted!” Trust me when I say this, second-hand thrift stores are gold mines for finding cool, retro items that will get people idolising your fashion style. So, I urge you to give it a go.
Finally, think before you throw. This relates to the popular saying someone’s trash is another’s treasure. So, before you begin chucking out your clothes because they’re no longer ‘stylish’ to you try reselling on second-hand platforms such as Facebook Marketplace to generate a little extra cash on the side. Otherwise, donate your clothes to charity – someone is bound to find your style trendy.