What is fast fashion? Fast fashion is clothing companies that sell massive amounts of clothing, for cheap prices and un-environmentally friendly dispose of leftover clothing into landfills. These companies often don’t involve themselves in politics or the role they as a company should play in society. A company has a responsibility to society to ethically produce their products; fast fashion doesn’t meet their ethical responsibility.
Fast fashion has a very negative stigma around it, but why? Fast fashion is cheap, which benefits lower-income citizens because it keeps them warm and healthy. Sadly, that might be fast fashion’s only positive. Fast fashion gained its title for producing quality clothing at quick cheap rates. The only way that is sustainable for a company is child labour. Most of the major clothing companies we shop at use child labourers to produce our clothing, including, H&M, Forever 21, Gap, Nike, Zara, Urban Outfitters, Primark and others. Companies like H&M have been caught in multiple public human rights scandals, but still haven’t changed their ethics around production. None of these companies want to involve themselves in child labour, but the benefits of having employees working overtime for little to no money is worth it for them. The economic benefit of child workers may be good for companies, but the workers would disagree. A forced labour worker spoke out and said, “[My] batch supervisor came up behind me as I was working on the sewing machine, yelling, ‘You are not meeting your target production.’ He pulled me out of the chair and I fell on the floor. He hit me, including on my breasts. He pulled me up and then pushed me to the floor again [and] kicked me.” The Guardian shared the story of this young Chinese woman inhopes to inspire boycotting fast fashion. That truly horrifying story tragically displays the truth of companies’ production today. The next time you’re shopping in a store like Zara or Forever 21-maybe you notice a great shirt for a cheap price, remember why that price is so cheap.
Stopping shopping at fast fashion stores are good first steps, but we can’t just turn away from the problem. Workers are suffering and something needs to be done to help them. To help get rid of fast fashion and improve the health of clothing production workers, people need to start talking more about it. Educate yourself on the policies of the companies you shop at. If they aren’t ethically produced products, openly boycott that company and share with others why you are.
Even actions as small as those, if done by enough people, will hurt the company.
Fast fashion is not a good or sustainable way to shop, primarily because of the child workers, but also the awful environmental impact. If what you like about fast fashion is good clothing for cheap prices, I would recommend thrifting. Not only is it better for the environment, but on a minor scale it’s helping the children workers.