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Fast Fashion Impacts Continued...
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Consumers have rewarded these "fast" retailers with fast growth: The top fast fashion retailers have grown 9.7% per year over the last five years, while their traditional-apparel counterparts have grown just 6.8% per year over the same period. We have become so accustomed to affordable clothing that the average consumer almost expects to be able to pick up an entirely new outfit for less than the cost of dinner or a movie. A new shirt… $5. A new pair of jeans… $10.50. A brand new pair of black flats that match perfectly with the new shirt and jeans… $6. What could possibly be wrong with these cheap prices? Well, that’s just it: the items are cheap. Consumers aren’t aware of what the extremely low prices of big fast fashion names, like H&M, Zara, Forever21, Wet Seal, and Gap, really mean.
We buy more because it's cheap, and there will always be a newer, nicer jacket, top or skirt if the one we've brought home doesn't suit, but cheaply made products incorporate a whole lot more than simply not causing the buyer to break the bank.
Our addiction to cheap, impulse-purchased fast fashion is leaving us unsatisfied, destroying our environment and tragically devaluing our labor force. The problem with that is that the fashion industry let alone the fast fashion industry produces significant amounts of waste in all cycles of a products life starting from the design, production and distribution and to the care and maintenance of a garment by the consumer. Entire ecosystems are being destroyed to produce clothes that we buy, wear for a short while, and soon tire of. In order to create a low cost and highly efficient process to manufacture clothing, there’s a need to compromise numerous factors that as a whole, all these make fast fashion unsustainable but also all too many times ethically, socially and environmentally questionable. Fast Fashion makes consumption easy and it creates disposable culture as a standard all while increasing textile waste and leaving the environment to pay the true cost of Fashion. Cheap clothing means cheap and potentially unethical labor, cheap production, synthetic materials, toxic dyes and chemicals, an increase in pesticide use, an increase in pollution, low product lifetime, and an increasing trend toward the “throw-away culture”.
Since both the "largest" and the "biggest" fashion apparel retailers in the world have built their global retail empires with the fast fashion business model, it's safe to say that fashion consumers are happily participating in the global fashion disruption. Fast fashion appeals to the younger generations, as they typically are more aware of catwalk trends and want to emulate high-fashion looks without spending a fortune. According to a recent report on fast fashion, the demographic that most consumes fast fashion is under 28 years of age, although older individuals are becoming more interested.
More clothing is shipped and flown from the Far East to Europe than ever before and the life cycle of these garments is decreasing. Transportation exhausts have also increased due to shipping of numerous new collections. However, the largest impact on the environment is the amount of clothing dumped into landfills every year. As recent as 2010, in the U.S. alone, 11 million tons of clothing waste were put into landfills, contributing to global warming with the release of methane as the fabrics decomposed.
Even if you donate used clothes to charity, at this point nearly half of all charitable donations go directly to textile recyclers. On the one hand, yes, a large portion of this is reused in different ways. On the other hand, though, it’s unbelievably wasteful.
These rapid fashion changes are just one characteristic of Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion is a trend, a habit, and a problem. The urge of new and trendy betrays the ravages of Fast Fashion but it also symbolizes a much bigger and deeper issue that is important to point out.

textiles, agriculture, prices