By: Christina Li
While walking the streets of Toronto with my friends this summer, I couldn’t help but notice the influence that current fashion trends had on everyone’s selection of clothing. Whether that be denim jeans or sweater vests, it seemed like everyone I passed was wearing “the latest, trending look”. Gone were the days of buying clothes that would last a year — instead, these styles lasted for only weeks!
This got me wondering about how and where these clothes were coming from, as well as the hidden implications behind such a fast cycle of fashion.
After delving into articles online, I came across the term: ‘fast fashion’, a term that refers to the fast cycle in which trending looks from influencers or the catwalk are made in a short time frame, before being sold at a cheap price. Though this allows everyone to try the latest trending styles, the low price tag has hidden environmental and societal costs. With clothes thrown out prematurely, these textiles can stay in landfills for up to 200 years. Each second, one garbage truck of clothes is burned or sent to landfills — thereby making the fashion industry the second largest polluter in the world.
Moreover, the social impacts are just as devastating. With child labour as well as other forms of unethical labour, many around the world are paying for our choice of clothes. In fact, workers in Bangladesh make only $96/monthly —as the government of Bangladesh reports, these workers need at least 3x that to live a “decent life with basic facilities.”
Hence, it seems that the future of the fashion industry is grim, unless we can change the consumer culture around fashion. Corporate companies will have to address the elephant in their room, and make the necessary decision to sacrifice business growth for sustainability. On the consumer side, we can tackle this problem by buying less, but investing in quality clothing that is meant to last. Other than that, asking #WhoMadeMyClothes, as well as shopping at ethical brands can spark the transformation in the future fashion industry.