Fast is in Fashion, and what that says about us.

Hana Toler, Staff Writer

If you were to glance over at someone’s computer or phone screen during homecoming week, you would view a shop website which shows a barrage of different glamorous dresses for prices ranging from $20 to as low as $8. In just a few weeks during homecoming season, thousands of dresses are swiftly purchased and nearly never worn again. Some are sent to thrift stores whilst others are destined to reside in a landfill. However, this bulk purchasing process is not just exclusive to homecoming or dance seasons. With the growth of online fast fashion brands such as SHEIN, RomWe, Cider, or FashionNova, the overconsumption of poor quality clothing is on the rise. 

But what is fast fashion? Fast fashion refers to clothing brands that produce clothing that fits with trends and update their range of clothing rapidly, prioritizing continuous trendiness over the quality of their clothing. To supply the mass amount of clothing, brands use unethical labor of underpaid workers for long hours where they are exposed to dangerous chemicals in textile production.    

Not only does fast fashion violate workers’ rights, but it has harmful effects on the environment. The production of fast fashion makes up 10 percent of total global carbon emissions as well as dehydrating water sources and adding pollution to rivers and streams. On top of this, 85 percent of textiles end up in dumps at the end of a year, according to’s article on the dangers of fast fashion

The harmful phenomenon is, a lot of people are aware of this. Many social media posts have gone viral exposing the dangers of consuming fast fashion, but it seems that not a lot of people care. This could be due to the fact that for every post about the dangers of fast fashion made by an individual creator, there are tens of thousands of ads made by the million dollar corporations selling their products. Social media consumers are much more likely to look at an ad that endorses cute clothing for the lowest prices imaginable rather than to stay through another video about how the Earth is dying. 

People don’t want to care anymore. It seems as though we are so constantly plagued by the impending doom of climate change that people are losing hope and would much rather distract themselves with a new wardrobe than to think about the darkness of our future — especially for young people, who have been told that the salvation of the planet is riding on their shoulders since before they could walk.  

Recently, creators on social media platforms have emphasized that clothing defines one’s character, and brands thrive off of this. There is nothing wrong with having a personal style. However, it’s become a trend to need to fit oneself into a category defined by the clothing that one adorns, and every month or so a new category is formed, becomes trendy, and advertisements push for consumers to redo their wardrobe to fit this mold. 

Obviously, the average person cannot afford to redo their wardrobe to fit with trends, but wealthy people will spend hundreds of dollars on fast fashion to reinvent their style for the season only to disregard the clothing and send it to a thrift store or even just throw it to a landfill. These upper-class people could spend their money on high-quality, ethically made clothing that will last them a lifetime, but many with a social media presence buy from fast fashion brands to keep their online appearance fresh.  

Though thrift stores are a great, ethical way of purchasing cheap clothing, they are becoming a place where out-of-trend fast fashion pieces are discarded and this becomes a problem for financially-struggling people who genuinely need to shop at secondhand stores. If thrift shops are filled with low- quality clothing, it is increasingly difficult for people who seriously need merchandise to keep them warm and to last long. 

While the degradation of our environment seems grim and unavoidable, if you can try your best not to purchase from fast fashion stores, it’s a valuable decision. Obviously, not everyone can afford to buy completely ethically made clothing, but there are other options available. Buying secondhand is a great way to get clothing for cheap, as well as allowing you to find original pieces of clothing you wouldn’t have found otherwise. Additionally, wear the clothing you do own for as long as you can, and if you need to get rid of clothing opt for reusing it, donating it, or reselling it on your own. Do not simply throw it into the garbage and unnecessarily add to the amounts of waste in the world.