Fast fashion, at what cost?

The fast fashion industry has grown tremendously over the years and it’s expected to continue further expanding in the future.
The number one reason why fast fashion is so popular among the public is due to its affordability.
“I think people rely on or resort to fast fashion because of its convenience of offering clothes with low prices,” senior Ishat Hannan said.
Some retailers will have prices as low as a couple dollars for a shirt.
With the cheap prices that these fast fashion retailers offer, it makes the latest trendy clothing accessible to almost everyone.
“It is easy for their audience to get hooked because they don’t have that much money and want to stick to trends,” junior Jenna Saykhamphone said.
When people think of fast fashion, one major company that pops into their minds is Shein, an online retailer based in China.
“I shop on Shein quite often. I really like the base selection on it,” senior Isra Kertgate said. “ I feel like it has fashion for everyone. I usually really like distinct clothing items and Shein usually has it.”
Shein is one of the cheapest fast fashion retailers out there, but the quality of its clothing can be questionable.
Sometimes the clothing will be made of a thinner material, making the pieces feel cheap.
“I shopped at Shein once to see what it was like but I am personally not a fan of it due to its poor quality, “ Saykhamphone said.
However, Shein does also have some star products.
“Shein actually has some pieces with nice quality, like their zip-ups,” Kertgate said.
Low quality items is one huge downside to shopping fast fashion, however, there are far worse downsides to this industry.
“In a fashion industry that is high-speed, it [fast fashion] does well for both the company and the consumer, however, these benefits still don’t make fast fashion morally acceptable,” Saykhamphone said.
The industry can be very harmful to the environment with all of its packaging.
“Something that I hate about it [Shein] is the packaging that they use,” Kertgate said. “They individually wrap every single piece of clothing item and it’s so much plastic. I feel like Shein’s overuse of plastic is insane and destructive to the environment.”
Additionally, this industry has been known for its unethical methods of production.
“Fast fashion has many negatives to it like poor working conditions, child labor and low pay,” Saykhamphone said.
Many children in foreign countries with high poverty are being exploited for these companies’ profit.
“While it is nice to have lower priced clothing, I don’t like how fast fashion is fueled by child labor,” Hannan said. “I’ve always thought that it is wrong unethical for cheap child labor to be used for larger brands to profit off of.”
There are many people that do try to stray away from fast fashion due to all the negative aspects around it.
“I feel like the more I learn about it the more I’m turned off from fast fashion,” Kertgate said.
However, it is easier said than done.
“I definitely believe that people should stray away from fast fashion sites,” Kertgate said. “But I know everyone’s situation is very different and not everyone can afford to shop ethically.”
Navigating which brands to stay away from can also be a headache.
“Honestly, I hate to say it but I probably still shop at fast-fashion places without even knowing it, because they are really all around us,” Saykhamphone said.
It’s very difficult to avoid fast fashion completely, but there are some alternative options that can help people cut back.
“One alternative to fast fashion is thrifting clothes since thrift shops have a changing variety of clothes and accessories for low prices, “ Hannan said. “However, the problem is lower priced clothing becomes more unavailable to those who might not be able to afford high priced clothing, so you need to be careful with that.”
Another alternative is just cutting back on buying clothes in general.
“Something that we discussed in my fashion class is to buy stuff you’d think you would wear longer and don’t follow trends as much,” Kertgate said. “Buy staples rather than buying into trends.”