Volume IconWhat is fast fashion and is it a cause for concern?

Did you know that the global textile industry emits more greenhouse gas than those from shipping and international air travel combined? The emergence of fast fashion has played a big role in it

ImageBhaswar Kumar New Delhi
Prada, Fashion, Models

In a country where a big chunk of population is employed in textile sector, it might be an odd question to ask. But it is worth asking. Do we make too many clothes, buy too much of them, and junk too many of them?

According to an IndiaSpend report, over 1 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away in India every year. This report is one among many others that have argued that fast fashion is hurting the environment by creating a false sense of demand for the next and latest fresh look, which is an ever-changing notion. But, what does the term 'fast fashion' actually mean? Let's find out.

India is one of the top fast fashion manufacturing hubs globally and its own fashion demand is also growing. In this context, it is important to understand the concerns attached.

But, first, what exactly is fast fashion? The fashion industry used to have two seasons a year earlier. Manufacturers and designers used to roll out new collections for each season. But in 2000, some international brands introduced about 52 micro seasons a year. There were new launches almost every week, flooding markets with more and more stylish cloths. This was called fast fashion.

According to the Corporate Finance Institute, the term fast fashion refers to rapidly produced and consumed fashion products that are manufactured to meet fast-changing trends. In part, it is a sales technique, the rapid speed of which gives organisations using it a competitive advantage.

Fast fashion calls for clothes to move quickly from the fashion ramps into the hands of consumers in a bid to take advantage of the latest trend. The average consumer goes away happy as fast fashion allows them to buy the hot new look at an affordable price.

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Not to mention, the rise of fast fashion reflects the success we have had in coming up with cheaper and speedier manufacturing processes and shipping methods. It also reflects the increase in consumer purchasing power, especially among the young.

And when the trend changes so fast and your wardrobe fills up fast, what happens to the clothes that are now considered out of style? You end up discarding them.

Fast fashion ends up resulting in a massive increase in wastage. Also, remember that these clothes are transported around the world before reaching you. The result is increased carbon dioxide emissions.

The fashion industry produces about 53 million tonnes of fibre every year, 70% of which ends up in garbage dumps. While in India, over one million tonnes of textiles are discarded every year.

So, what can you, as the consumer, do? Simple solutions are the answer. You can just buy less clothing. You can extend the life of your current clothing by not falling for the latest hot trend. In some countries, where the practice is prevalent, you can go in for thrift shopping. And, last but not least, you can upcycle your old clothes.

First Published: May 23 2022 | 7:00 AM IST

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