Fast Fashion, Sustainability, and Social Media Envy

Hey Lovelies!

Lets talk about fast fashion! For those of you who don’t know, “fast fashion” is the term used by fashion retailers when designs seen on catwalks are reproduced quickly in order to provide high street shops with the most current trends. Fast fashion clothing collections are based on Fashion Week catwalks from Spring and Autumn each year. These are affordable for most people at a fraction of the price of collections by high-end brands shown on catwalks at Fashion Week. But is there another cost?

In fast fashion there is a short turnaround time between designing garments and the production of new clothing collections due to quick and cheap manufacturing. Fast fashion retailers take the “pile it high, sell it cheap” approach, producing in large quantities and selling garments at lower prices, therefore, giving consumers the illusion that they are getting more for their money. Fast fashion retailers have taken advantage of this method, creating 52 “micro seasons” per year. With new looks and trends hitting the shelves every week, customers are made to feel off-trend after only the first wear!

So why should we care? Because we have turned into a “throw-away” society – full of excessive consumption and waste.  A survey of 2,000 women by the Daily Mail found that most women thought clothes to be old after only a few uses, with many either throwing them away or donating them to charity (of course the latter is a good thing!). They also found that 1 in 7 women said that social media like Facebook and Instagram were strong influences as they did not want to be seen/tagged in the same outfit twice.

In truth, I have also felt disinclined to be seen on social media in an outfit I have worn before. Why do we need to feel judged and embarrassed to be seen wearing the same (beautiful!) thing twice? Perhaps it makes sense in a world where every step you take can be documented on social media. Despite social media being fantastic in many ways, has it also turned our lives into a giant popularity contest? Does it make us feel like we always have to conform according to what is “popular” – a concept that changes on a weekly basis?

For example; I like Instagram because I have always believed that I am not great at expressing myself with words (yet, I started a blog…). However, it is a platform that has generated a concept called “Instagram Envy”. For those of us who follow fashion bloggers or fashion icons on Instagram, it’s not unusual to scroll through your feed and feel suffocated by new (fabulous!) things on a daily basis. To some people following 300 fashion-oriented Instagram accounts may mean 300 opportunities to feel like their wardrobe is out of date. Over the last few days I have seen blog posts by people who more or less proclaim their love for Instagram while also admitting that it has, at times, made them feel worthless, sad, fat, ugly, and poor! Some listed all the things Instagram has made them feel that they NEED in order to make their lives a success, including all the fashion must haves (current Instagram obsessions seem to be lacy bralets, super stylish gym clothes, roses, all white everything houses, and thigh high boots). Its easy to dismiss this as silly (and perhaps they should just close their accounts), but it also highlights how easy it is to feel insecure, even in the “safety” of your home in front of a computer/phone screen. Do we really want to constantly try to keep up to date with unrealistic lifestyles? Because let’s face it: most people posting the latest trends are getting paid to post those photos.

So let’s put things in perspective here.

Key findings (and I quote) from WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) from a report they did called “Valuing our Clothes”: 

  • “The annual footprints of a household’s new and existing clothing are equivalent to the weight of over 100 pairs of jeans, the water needed to fill over 1,000 bathtubs, and the carbon emissions from driving an average modern car for 6,000 miles;
  • The average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes – and around 30% of clothing in wardrobes has not been worn for at least a year;
  • The cost of this unused clothing is worth around £30 billion;
  • Extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints; and
  • An estimated £100 million worth (based on 2015 prices) or around 350,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year.”

So next time you see that person on Instagram with the “perfect” hair, the “perfect” clothes, and the “perfect” life think about the fact that most people generally only share their triumphs publicly, and not their failures. Don’t feel the need to compare yourself to anyone else. Buy clothes that you like, not only because they are trendy. As we all know, trends pass, and very quickly for that matter! Be more conscious of your purchases. When I see something trendy that I want, I usually wait a few days to see if I still want it (and usually forget about it pretty quickly!). If you do have clothes that you no longer want, either recycle or give them a new home! Let’s try to stop caring so much about the increasing tendency of the world being superficial. Not only is this damaging our self-esteem, it is also damaging the Earth (our only home).

Nataly x

Image taken from The Guardian

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Sustainable fashion, ethical luxury, and lifestyle blog by Nataly Elbaz Björklund. Creating awareness on sustainability issues and introducing ethical, sustainable, eco-friendly, slow fashion & lifestyle brands.

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