Fast fashion refers to the clothing which makes its way straight from the catwalk to the store. Many leading designer brands including H&M, Zara and pioneer 21 have shifted to this mass productivity culture. Further, the quick response method and increased efficiency of the supply chain have helped customers remaining up to date with the recent trends in fashion technology. However, the apparel industry suffers from a few major drawbacks, including its massive share in the environment footprint.
According to Fisher, the CEO of Fisher 21, “fashion industry is the second biggest environment polluter after oil wells”. In the UK, every year around 35 tonnes of clothes are dumped in landfills most of them are made from nylon and polyester which are non-biodegradable in nature. 90% of the clothing is imported in the United States and the huge scale transportation is met by using low-grade bunker fuel driven ships which emit toxic nitrous oxide and is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect.
The other problem includes detrimental workmanship where workers are subjected to poor working conditions made to work on minimal wages due to lack of itemization of labor costs.
The children working in the Rana plaza factory said they were made to work all day long with no intervals in between and were paid less than a dollar a day. When asked for rest and a day off due to illness they were beaten severely and struck oilcloth in their mouths as a result of which many of them fell sick and died.
The story of pregnant women was no different they weren’t given maternity leave and were continuously threatened by abortion if they failed to do their work.
Apart from the shoddy workmanship fast fashion had a major impact on the designers of the world. On being asked about what he feels about fast fashion industry, Shivam a fashion designer from France replied:” Fast fashion has made us no better than the salesman, designers have no room for creativity, they have to copy designs from the other brands, because there is always a pressure from the marketing heads.”
One big step to sustainable fashion would be to unlearn that fashion democratizes style and has a role to play in global capitalism. Fast fashion would hit the roadblock with increasing customer awareness of its harmful effects, the importance given to the phrase “who made our clothes” and encouraging the reuse of old clothes either by selling or by donating to the needy.
Our clothes are so cheap that to raise wages, and consequently, prices would improve the lives of developing world workers but for this, we have to spend something from our wallets. retailers and distributors, as well as the federal government, should strive to enforce certain basic worker and environmental protections throughout the full length of the supply chains, wherever in the world these may extend.
Application of strict labor laws ensuring proper working conditions pay rates, educational and health services given to workers.
There should be a provision of recreation and suitable resting intervals between working hours, the establishment of rehabilitation programs and regular inspection by government officials of the working conditions of the factory. Stopping the “unauthorized production,” in which a contractor sub-contracts manufacturing to an unauthorized factory, potentially one that fails to meet internationally recognized or even company-required labor, production, or building standards.
We must remember if everyone is doing their bit than one small step can big a radical change to the society.