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Fast Fashion

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Fashion faux pas, fashion ‘crimes’ or the self-appointed ‘fashion police’ have long been dictating what is or is not in vogue. With the recent surge of social media platforms and a celebrity culture now accessible at our fingertips, an excessive obsession on clothing choices is very much the norm. Typical ‘fashion crimes’ can cover anything from socks with sandals, wearing the same outfit in separate Instagram posts, double denim to cringeworthy T-shirt slogans. Yet the shallow conversations which lifestyle magazines, blogs, people and social media are propagating, overlook the deeper and more insidious violations of the fashion world. During the recent black Friday sales, 99%-off sales by the clothing retailer Pretty Little Thing stirred up a hornet’s nest. Selling dresses and heels for 8p and 25p respectively[1], many shoppers were thrilled by such unmatched bargains, while others commented on how this was laying bare an uglier truth underpinning the fast fashion industry.

‘Fast fashion’ denotes an unsustainable culture of consumption; it has recently catapulted the success of high-street fashion. On-trend clothes mimicking catwalk styles or celebrity outfits are now reproduced by high-street brands, such as Zara or New Look, in lightning speed to meet consumer desires in a hyper-connected fashion world. Consumers are, as a result, able to snap up the latest styles in their local shops which only a couple of days prior were being sported by high-profile celebrities. They can enjoy the satisfaction of wearing these items at the peak of their popularity. Big fashion corporations have consciously fed and exploited this desire to be stylish, and have thus driven us to move beyond four to 52 fashion seasons in a year[2]. When it comes to fast fashion, the priority is on speed, affordability and being on-trend. On the face of it, these priorities seem harmless, until we see the ethical implications that this speed of turnover requires.

The production of fashion is putting an unimaginable strain on the earth’s precious and depleting resources. Clothing items already constitute 20 to 35% of microplastic in the ocean, and three out of five fast fashion clothing pieces end up in landfill sites. Here, in the UK, they are either incinerated to release noxious fumes, or left to “decompose”. While “decomposing” deceptively sounds like a natural process, for polyester, this takes more than 200 years[3]. Another bitter truth is that this fibre, alongside all other synthetic fibres, comes from the resource causing enough anxiety as it is: oil. The annual carbon footprint of the textiles industry is also 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 – more than the combined emissions of international flights and shipping.

What’s more, compared to 20 years ago, we are keeping the garments we buy for half as long, reinforcing a “disposable culture” that our planet cannot take. Many powerful fashion companies are afraid of the consumer’s increasing awareness of the environmental repercussions of fast fashion – as it endangers their profit margins. As such, many brands are tapping into this concern by plastering words such as ‘organic’, ‘responsibly-made’ and ‘ethical’ all over their marketing campaigns. This all typifies the phenomenon of “greenwashing”; marketing products to make them look far more green and sustainable than actually is the case. Although ‘organically-grown’ cotton may have a lower carbon footprint than a synthetic fabric, 1 kg of cotton clothing still requires a staggering 10,000-20,000 litres of water to be made. This, of course, is exerting huge pressures in countries already confronting water scarcities due to climate change[4].

The fashion industry’s environmental impact is worrying, and as consumers it is not enough to merely be aware of this. We must proactively work against the false ideas and trends that multinational fashion brands have stealthily fabricated. They are capitalising off the toxic culture which claims it is a “crime” notto own the styles that are à la mode. Instead, it is worth considering more ethical marketplaces such as the likes of Depop selling “pre-loved” clothing, or by going to charity shops and flea markets, upcycling or repairing old clothes or simply changing our mindsets before buying a piece of clothing. We should think about differentiating between need and want, as well as investing in items for the long-run, not just for two or three wears. Without scrutinising our own purchasing patterns, we cannot influence the market demands that are ultimately shaped by us. The cheap prices we pay now may end up costing our planet.


[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/pretty-little-thing-black-friday-sale-b1763255.html

[2] The True Cost (2015)

[3] https://goodonyou.eco/fast-fashion-facts/

[4] https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/09/12/fast-facts-about-fast-fashion/

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Writer at The Analyst | + posts

Graduate in Languages, tutor and traveller, with a keen interest in justice, sustainability and demystifying widespread social misconceptions.

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Vogue Slammed For Editing Palestine Out of Gigi Hadid’s Instagram Post

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Palestinian-American model, Gigi Hadid, recently vowed to donate her Paris Fashion Week’s earning to Palestine and Ukraine in an instagram post. The model has been an activist for Palestine and a firm opponent of the atrocities being committed by Zionists. She has now added Ukraine to her donations list as the situation with Russia continues to grow worse and worse by the day. 

Initially Vogue included the entirety of Hadid’s post, though quickly reframed it when commenters claimed that the post was anti-Semetic and was “appropriating the Russian invasion.”

Hadid’s strong declaration of “HANDS OFF UKRAINE. HANDS OFF PALESTINE. PEACE. PEACE. PEACE.” was swiftly expunged from Vogue’s post along with any other reference to Palestine. 

This brought about another furry of commenters condemning the magazine’s blindness to world issues. Activists argued that by succumbing to pressure they were playing their part in the racism against and erasure of Palestinians from their home, culture, history, and heritage. 
In a third edit Vogue then went on to make their caption “@GigiHadid announces that she will be donating her fashion month earnings towards relief efforts in Ukraine as well as continuing to support relief efforts in Palestine.” The controversial social media activity by part of Vogue was not missed as many activists have stated that unethical behavior such as this is what fuels the flame for racism and discrimination.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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