Pro: Fast Fashion forefront of accessibility

 

Earth Day makes us all more conscious of our effect on our planet. However, with it comes consumerist guilt over where we buy our clothes.

Fast fashion has been the topic of many social and environmental discussions, especially in recent years. Defined by Oxford Languages, fast fashion is “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” While there are many issues that should be addressed, such as the exploitation of workers, the social and environmental blame should not fall on the consumers, but should rightfully be placed on the corporation.

Fast fashion has become the equalizer of fashion. Due to its affordability, new trends are no longer limited to the elite. According to Reviews in History, those of the working class during and before the Victorian era were often too busy and poor to afford to dress with the current trends. Mass produced clothes were originally aimed towards the working class to make work clothes while clothes reflecting fashion trends would be made by artisans, and would therefore be expensive to buy. However, with the shift of creating trendy clothes for the masses, everyone, including the working class can participate in fashion trends. Fast fashion’s accessibility eliminates the elitism that surrounds fashion and provides a means for creativity for everyone regardless of income. However, recently, the hatred towards it implies another classist call.

Many will argue that thrifting is a sustainable way to purchase clothes, however some have taken advantage of nonprofit organizations like Goodwill and overbuy clothes to resell on for-profit sites like Depop. According to Vox, this has led to the gentrification of thrift stores, otherwise known as overbuying clothes for profit, usually by those with higher income, which inadvertently raises prices of thrifted goods. Due to the low supply and high demand of secondhand goods, low-income shoppers could be priced out of thrift stores in their area, forcing them to turn to fast fashion. It is not fair for people who have the means to shop elsewhere to criticize low-income communities who buy from fast fashion when they are the reason these communities can not buy from their local thrift store. This mentality is toxic in its classism, as now only the wealthy can afford to be ethical or sustainable.

In addition, others may say that buying from fast fashion would turn a blind eye to the exploitation of workers in the textile industry and that by refraining from purchase would make companies more conscious of their production methods. While that may be true in some sense, the idea that there is “no ethical consumption under capitalism” comes to mind, as its meaning was to take the wrongful blame off of poor communities and place it onto the corporations who prioritize profits over people. Most sustainable and ethical brands are often too expensive for lower-income households to afford, which again makes being “sustainable” and “ethical” a class issue. The wealthy can have the moral high ground for not buying from unethical fast fashion brands, when in reality, they just make being sustainable and ethical difficult for lower-income communities. So while protesting the corporations who do buy from unethical sources is great, we must be aware that not everyone has the means to do the same, and therefore should not be blamed for contributing to the source of the problem. We all have a part to play in working towards a more sustainable fashion industry, so we should all be conscious of where we shop and how it affects the communities around us.

Ultimately, the issue of fast fashion is more intricate than meets the eye. To be a conscious shopper is to think about the environmental and social impacts of the brands you shop at. One of the best ways is to buy only what you need, regardless if it is from a fast fashion brand or from the thrift store. Reducing the amount of clothes we consume is the most energy efficient method of saving the environment. And if financially able, shop from sustainable brands, but try not to point fingers at people who do not have the same means. It’s pretentious and elitist.

 


 

“I think fast fashion provides an amazing opportunity for people to express themselves, and I especially appreciate the affordability aspect that makes it accessible to anyone who enjoys fashion and design. However, I do believe there is an urgent need for us to be mindful of the waste we create, meaning that fashion should be more intentional rather than mass produced. I do think it’s significant to understand, though, that practicing sustainability—in all aspects and not just fashion—can be a privilege.”

Tiffany Gomez, English teacher

 

“The current shift into buying secondhand fashion encouraged by popular YouTubers like Bestdressed or even political figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is overall a very good trend to combat clothing waste and ensure that we reuse clothing to their full extent, but at the same time this shift has also led to influencers and teens into gentrifying and keeping people who actually needs the clothes from thrift stores from getting those clothes. For example, a lot of lower-class plus-sized people shop at thrift stores, but that whole oversized clothes trend has created a decrease in products for those people. Additionally, overconsumption with gentrifying thrift stores just recycles the worst parts of fast fashion into thrifting and buying secondhand. So overall, a good solution but still need to be mindful of how much we consume and what we consume.”

Ria Singh Thakur, senior