What Fast Fashion Is NOT Showing You

fast fashion is killing people and the planet

Making clothing accessible is important but fast fashion is killing people and the planet. I fully understand that investing in a sustainable and ethical brand requires resources that not everyone has, but we have to be aware of the consequences of supporting fast fashion brands. We cannot ignore this any longer. It is now more important than ever to use our influence to advocate for change. 

Although, as I mentioned before, I’m not completely against Black Friday, I cannot simply ignore what has been happening these last few days, from brands that have extended their discounts until the beginning of December to others that have been giving away their clothes, demonstrating once again how little these fast fashion brands value their clothing – garment workers, and everyone on Earth who will pay the price of their irresponsibility. 

Pretty Little Thing Are Selling Their Clothes For Free

Over the weekend, the fast fashion brand Pretty Little Thing, owned by Boohoo, sold clothes up to 100% off, showing a complete disregard for the true cost of clothing. Clothes cost money, resources, labour, packaging and so on. This is no longer to help people buy something they need for a long time at a more affordable price. This is exploitation. This makes me wonder… How much will their workers make so that Pretty Little Thing can give away their clothes for free?

If I already consumed very little fast fashion, I stopped doing so completely when many of my favourite brands decided not to take care of their orders during the pandemic, leaving the factories no choice than destroy or keep hold of unwanted goods already made and lay off their workers in droves. Our ignorance has allowed us to buy into a system built on human rights violations.

Subhuman situations like these have happened close to home too. Workers in Leicester making clothes destined for the fast fashion giant Boohoo are being paid as little as £3.50 an hour in 2020, despide profits climbing 54%, when the minimum wage was £8.72 an hour, as an undercover Sunday Times investigation found. And because they didn’t think they were cruel enough, they forced their workers to continue to operate throughout the COVID 19 lockdown risking their garment workers lives.

Boohoo is the UK’s fast-growing fast-fashion retailer that was set up in 2006 by Mahmud Kamani and his business partner Carol Kane and is now valued at more than $4.3 billion. From the start, Boohoo’s business model was based around being ultra-fast and ultra-cheap; thousands of new styles are added each week on their website with an average price point of $17. They never agreed to PayUP and have not responded to inquiries from Business and Human Rights Resource Center according Remake Our World.

While their garment workers suffer and fashion execs earn billions-they pass on their disposable clothing to poison our environment, where we all pay the price.

Remake Our World

Shein Hauls Is Making Our Planet Unliveable

If you’ve been scrolling and shopping on TikTok, you’re probably familiar with the fast fashion retailer Shein. In fact, Shein is also one of the most talked-about brands on Instagram and YouTube, and the most visited fast fashion and apparel site in the world, according to the web analytics platform Similarweb. 

Shein has been growing in popularity due to the massive hauls that dominate absolutely all social media where people tend to unpack a box of 50, 100 or 200 garments just for the sake of entertainment. The more items in the haul, the better, inciting impulsive buying. 

Shein makes it even easier for those who want to grow in social media quickly without much effort through their ”fashion blogger program”, where they offer free clothes worth between $40 to $200 every month. Being their main strategy, they remain on trend every day because according to CEO Molly Miao, the company releases between 700 and 1,000 news items a day. Yes, you read that right: A DAY.

Shein is a brand I will never recommend. While Shein’s social responsibility page on its website stated that it never, ever engages in child or forced labor, it did not provide the transparency required. In fact, Reuters reported that until recently, the company website falsely claimed that their working conditions were certified by international labour standards bodies.

What’s wrong with Shein?

More is more. Boasting “#dailydrops: 1000+ new styles added” on the homepage, Shein’s assortment significantly dwarfs that of its competitors and continues to grow. While the pandemic caused product arrivals to contract, the number of styles currently available on the Shein US site outpaced 2020 by 153% and 2019 by 370% as reported by experts from EDITED.

Shein is so far ahead of competitors like H&M, Zara and Asos, that it’s difficult to compare them. You can theoretically buy an entire outfit, including shoes and accessories, for less than $30. Last October, Reuters reported that investors think “Zara is going to be crushed by fast fashion 2.0.” because brands like Shein are able to reach millions of young shoppers directly through social media. But paying these prices comes at a cost. The answer is quite simple: supply chains.

In addition to the conditions under which workers work for companies like Shein, Shein specifically has also been called out multiple times by independent designers, who accuse Shein of stealing their work, we sometimes forget the environmental impact of fast fashion. The fast fashion industry is responsible for more than 10 per cent of carbon emissions and consumes approximately 100 millions tonnes of oil every year. Virgin polyester is a key part of these figures. 

The production of polyester alone is leading to annual GHG emissions equivalent to 180 coal power plants – that’s around 700 million tonnes of CO2 annually. Reports estimate this could double again by 2030. Fast fashion brands like Shein are bad for people and the planet.

Chile’s Atacama Desert

The overproduction impacts all of us and especially communities in places like the Atacama Desert in Chile. I’m sure by now you’ve seen the horrifying images of more than 39,000+ tonnes of discarded clothes dumped in Chile’s Atacama desert. This is the cost of our overproduction and overconsumption in the fashion industry. All this clothing arrives from all over the world. Humans are causing life on Earth to vanish. 

Aljazeera estimated that up to 59,000 tons of clothes arrive each year at the Iquite port in the Alto Hospicio free zone in northern Chile, from Christmas sweaters or ski boots to tights, Halloween costumes, any garment in the textile industry. Unfortunately, clothing can take hundreds of years to biodegrade, if at all, and often, laden with chemicals.

Fast fashion is the second dirtiest industry in the world, next to big oil. The fashion industry is a complicated business and encompasses many steps on the way from the raw material, textile manufacture, the creation of that garment, shipping, retail, use, and with it, their respective washes which, if the garment is made of polyester, ends up in the ocean or even the air, and ultimately – something that absolutely nobody thinks about, including me – the disposal of the garment. 

However, the responsibility is not only on the individual. It’s mostly in the fast fashion brands, big businesses and CEOs, step up. Stop producing so much. There is too much clothes for each of us. On average, we buy between 60/80 garments per year. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that not only is it a very cruel industry, but there is no need to have so many clothes. This is getting out of control and there is no need to keep producing at this level.