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Is being an outfit repeater all that bad?

My college began physical classes last week and I had to be ready for it. After a year and a half of attending college online, I was to finally step foot into the campus. Like any other first-time college goer, I had to look trendy so that I could be perceived as in vogue by my peers. Owing to Covid lockdowns and restrictions, I didn’t go out as frequently and did sparsely buy clothes in the last few years. Now that I had to go out regularly, I had to check my closet for the right kind of clothing. Almost all the clothes I owned seemed outdated. Some of them were not even worn ones. A fresh pair of blue denims didn’t pass the test as the skinny jeans were now replaced by straight jeans, tapered jeans, mom jeans, bootcut jeans and its kin. I learnt striped tops are ousted by floral prints, and crops by midribs. 

The transmission of fashion trends to humble households was never this fast before. There is an unprecedented influx of ramp-ready clothing in the markets. While this can be perceived as democratization of the fashion industry, there is a large volume of wasteful clothing being generated due to an increase in the frequency of buying clothing. While the prices of these clothes do not burn a whole in the pockets of shoppers, the real price is being paid by the planet.

Fast Fashion

Fast Fashion is the mass production of affordable replicas of ramp-show trends. The collections are constantly revamped making the apparel more and more disposable. The buyer is sublimely prompted to visit the store several times in a year and overturn their wardrobe to not miss out on new trends. This has largely reduced the life of clothing. You wear a certain dress a couple of times, and before you know it, it is out of fashion. The reflex to keep oneself updated is being fed incessantly by the fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, Shein etc.


The real cost of Fast Fashion

A Chinese Fast Fashion brand is notoriously famous for not having a single physical store in place, yet delivering orders to anywhere in the world within a couple of weeks of ordering. The website is always on some kind of sale all through the year, minimum shipping charges and renewed collections every few weeks. It fashions itself as a “real time” fashion retailer, which tracks on trendy styles to produce them in 5-7 days to be placed on their online shelves. Yet no one knows what their supply chain looks like.

Informal and unregulated labor – 

The very profitable model of outsourced factories for turnaround clothing has led to deterioration of working conditions for those employed in the sector. According to the Worker Rights Advocacy Groups, KnowTheChain’s 2021 Apparel footwear benchmark Report, 54 percent of the 37 Fast Fashion Giants it examined, has alleged forced labor somewhere in its supply chain.

The demand for shorter turnaround periods and cutting down prices is making it difficult for factory owners to adhere to ethical practices. Woman are most affected by this malpractice as majority of workers in garment industry are woman.

The dumping of cloth piles

 All the clothes which get discarded for a wardrobe overhaul goes into unofficial landfills. Since clothing is non-biodegradable, traditional landfills by municipalities do not welcome them.

 Astonishing 25% of all textiles goes to dumping grounds each year. (UNECE 2018). The widespread consumerism in the clothing industry is reflected by the mountainous piles of clothes on Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Carbon footprints 

The carbon emission footprints of this industry are not as ephemeral as their product. According to UNEP 2918, The fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of humanity’s carbon emissions-more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. 

Water Consumption

Water enough to meet the demand of five million people is used by the garment industry annually, according to UNCTAD 2020 and around 20% of industrial waste water originates in garment factories. 


 Fast fashion needs to slow down


While it is tempting to dispose of clothing as frequently as one can and buy influencer approved latest styles, it is causing clothes to pile up on open land and job security and wages for garment employees being trivialized. Maybe this is a bigger crime than being an outfit repeater. The highly profiteering model of fast fashion needs to accommodate sustainability and durability to its set of rules. The shady world behind the surface has to be brought to light and greater transparency has to be ensured. The inexpensive fashionable outfits are not all that inexpensive.  


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