Photo from NPR.org
These days, shopping has turned into some sort of cycle. You see a piece you like, try it on, buy it, keep it in your closet — and then the cycle repeats itself. For some, a piece of clothing can be worn so often that it spurns judgmental side-eye from outfit rememberers, while for many, an outfit might as well rot in the closet begging to see the light of day.
With social media becoming the source of trends fueled by celebrities and bloggers who post their #OOTDs by the minute, more people want to get their hands on the latest fashion. The cycle becomes shorter as more closets are getting filled up and even more clothes are being thrown out for recycling. In this era of consumerism, there is one industry benefiting from these habits: fast fashion.
Brands like H&M, Zara, and Mango offer the latest styles and trends similar to that of designer clothing at a price that’s at the bare minimum (who could say no to a 1000-peso outfit?). While the thought of cheap yet stylish fashion sounds appealing, it has its own hidden downsides — and these are things we also need to consider.
Here are a list of the pros and cons to fast fashion:
YAY: Styles get updated beyond the usual spring/summer and fall/winter collections
Aside from the usual seasonal launches, fast fashion brands update their collections more often than designer labels do. Fast fashion brands have even become more creative in launching campaigns in order to sell more clothes to consumers. Take H&M for instance, who are known for their designer collaborations. It’s their partnerships with brands like Kenzo and Alexander Wang that elevate the fast fashion experience to a premium one.
NAY: Fast does not equate to good quality
We all know that anything done in haste won’t give you the best result. Since items from fast fashion brands are mass produced, you can expect their quality to suffer a bit. It may take only a couple washes for colors to fade or seams to loosen — and don’t always expect the material to be as strong as that of a trusted designer piece.
YAY: You can get a variety of clothes for less
It’s difficult not to find a style that’s perfect for you when you shop fast fashion. Most brands can have three floors’ worth of options, and you can mix and match styles of various designers, seasons and eras without having to scour the entire mall.
NAY: Expect to see another person wearing the same outfit
If it appeals to you, it appeals to others — and because of mass production, you can be sure that everyone else has seen it before. There’s always this downside when a good thing becomes accessible to everyone. Just hope you don’t show up to an event wearing the exact same outfit as someone else — awkward.
YAY: Sales happen so often you can’t resist them
Has this happened to you before: you’ve taken your pick at the best outfits H&M or Forever 21 has to offer and filled your cart, only to find that you’re lacking budget for that one more top you really want? Well, there’s no need to worry — it’ll probably be on sale by your next payday.
NAY: Fast fashion is not sustainable
Because trends come and go so quickly, much faster than any consumer’s bank account can keep up with, many of the clothes you see on the racks will end up going to the trash, one way or another. Whether they were thrown away by the store after a clearance sale or by their owners after they’ve been worn a couple hundred times, the fact that this happens all the time encourages a culture of disposability, which goes both ways: (a) it’s a risk to the environment, and (b) it makes you feel like the clothes have less value just because they’re cheaper.
YAY: It’s changing how everyone dresses
Admit it: we’d all love to wear designer as often as possible. Who doesn’t want to be the best-dressed at the party, or to #slay even while walking through the mall? What’s really stopping most of us is the cost.
Affordable and accessible fashion, however, is changing the game. Nowadays, anyone can get into fashion and wear designer staples — and everyone can definitely dress better for it.
NAY: The high demand creates pressure on designers and fosters child labor and other human rights violations
We love it when our favorite chains collaborate with designers — because then we literally get to take the runway looks home with us. But these chains demand so much so often from designers, constantly pressuring them to come up with more. These people are artists too, and as every artist knows, creativity and inspiration take time, so this pressure can be very exhausting.
It gets worse: some fast fashion brands (not necessarily the ones mentioned here, but some) employ informal workers to hand-sew designs. More often than not, these informal workers will even have children aid them in the work, just to keep up with the demand from fast fashion brands. These people often live hand-to-mouth in some of the poorest countries in the world, and they don’t get paid nearly enough for their troubles and handiwork.
We’ve come to the end of our list, and we hope you’ve learned something valuable. We’re not discouraging you from shopping fast fashion — if you love something, you should certainly treat yourself to it — but remember that every piece of clothing is more than just that. Consider the effort that goes into it, the possible repercussions of disposing it, and the story behind it. You may learn to shop smarter, or even just to appreciate what you have instead of throwing things away. Above all, remember that there’s a good side and bad side to everything — even fast fashion.