The Rise (and Soon to Be Fall?) of Fast Fashion
In the last twenty years or so, the cost of clothing has plummeted. As a result, clothing stores struggle to get rid of their huge inventories, and yesterday’s blouse is today’s obsolete embarrassment.
I find myself struggling to keep up. And doesn’t it seem to be getting worse and worse?
The recent factory collapse in Bangladesh gave us a harrowing example of the abuse happening at the lowest rung of the fashion chain. Clearly, the low cost of fashion comes from a low cost of production; and the low cost of production comes, in part, from poor treatment of garment workers – particularly a lack of precaution for worker safety.
But was that headline the last straw? Will the cheap fashion bubble ever burst?
Fresh Air recently interviewed author Elizabeth Cline about exactly that. While writing her book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, Cline traveled to China and Bangladesh – sometimes undercover – to investigate the garment industry.
I love her take on the recent trend of “fast fashion” (think fast food) and how her research changed the way she dresses and shops.
Based on her thoughts, here are 5 ways to encourage “slow fashion” and affect the clothing industry for the better:
- Avoid temptation. Don’t spend a lot of time in malls, and fast forward or mute commercials.
- Get thrifty. Thrift stores and yard sales aren’t just cheap – they’re an easy way to say no to fast fashion and reduce waste.
- Shop evergreen. The little black dress for women. The well-tailored suit for men. Some fashion doesn’t go out of style and should be treated as an investment. In fact, even though it may seem counter-intuitive to selling more clothes, many designers are moving in a more evergreen direction.
- Debit not credit. Only buy with real money. Preferably well-budgeted money. On that note:
- Budget more to buy less. With a few deep breaths we’ll learn to accept that a well-made dress by a well-paid laborer will cost more than $15. Take that chunk of change to a few of the great sites out there curating ethical fashion. Here’s just one.
How do you balance looking good with shopping in a people-conscious way? Do you try to avoid the ever-changing fashions, or do you have other tricks up your sleeve?