Those clothes of your favourite celebrity can be produced using cheap materials and in less time. The trend of producing and wearing cheap knock-offs of famous people's dresses or trends is called fast fashion. Some big names such as Zara, Forever21, and H&M have been associated with fast fashion. They produce inexpensive models of trending garments quickly and thus enjoy high customer satisfaction levels. But, fast fashion is dying, and these companies that once made huge profits are now on the verge of closure.
Way back in 2004, H&M had joined hands with Karl Lagerfeld to produce an inexpensive collection of the Lagerfeld aesthetics. High-end fashion was made available at lower prices. The deal did not consider the impact on the environment that the new line of clothing would have. These copycat and cheap clothes start looking jaded after a couple of washes. They lose their sheen and shine after being worn a few times. Today, it is advisable to wear new clothes after washing properly and choosing organic fiber and brands that engage in sustainable production.
Most of the world's garments are manufactured in China, India, and Bangladesh. The working conditions of labourers in these countries have always been under scrutiny. It has also been the subject of much criticism. The employees are prevented from forming unions and pressing their demands with the management. In Bangladesh, for instance, company managers threaten the employees with job losses if they form unions.
No one wants to encourage products made from such labour. The Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh brought to light the poor wages and working conditions of factory workers in this industry. Even after working overtime, these labourers don't get minimum wages. On the brighter side, today's consumer is fashion-conscious and interested in knowing how and in what conditions his garments are manufactured. Although there have been improvements in these labourers' working conditions and wages, there is still scope for improvement. Greater awareness dawning on the consumer has plummeted sales for Fast Fashion. Forever 21 is considering filing for bankruptcy, and H&M has seen its sales drop steeply.
The textile industry alone accounts for 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases emitted annually. The problem with fast fashion is that the clothes are used only once or twice and then discarded. This means that fast fashion has a far greater carbon footprint than other sections of the garment and textile industry. Fast fashion encourages a throwaway culture. It contributes to climate change more than the shipping and aeronautical industry combined.
The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions because the industry consumes a lot of power while manufacturing clothes. It is also because coal( one of the dirtiest sources of power) is the main source of power generation in China, India, and Bangladesh. The end consumer does not want to do anything that aggravates the situation. The consumer of such garments is aware of these facts and does not want to encourage the use and throw culture. This is indicated by plummeting sales and the closure of some big names in the industry.
To produce just 1kg of cotton, nearly 20,000 litres of water are needed. The water used by this industry can be sufficient for meeting 85% of the daily water needs in India. This makes a huge difference in a country where 100 million people don't have access to clean drinking water.
Apart from water consumed in cotton production, much water is needed for dyeing and finishing processes in the garment industry. Around 200 tons of freshwater is needed to produce one ton of dyed fabric to give a rough idea.
Hence, a lot of freshwater is consumed not only in cotton cultivation but also in the manufacture of finished products. People have realized the gravity of the situation and now rely more on recycled fabrics and linen.
Every time you wash clothes, you release about 700,000 microfiber filaments into the water. This finds its way into our oceans and is consumed by small ocean organisms and fish. This has resulted in plastic entering our food chain. It also results in air pollution. It is estimated that in a year, one person could release 900million microfibers into the air by wearing such garments. This has led to people now relying on semi-synthetic fibers and natural fibers. The damage can be controlled by washing clothes only when necessary and washing at a temperature of 30 degrees celsius.
The various production processes in the industry, such as bleaching, dyeing, and wet processing of garments, involve the use of chemicals. Chemicals are also used in cotton production, and this has resulted in farmers dying premature deaths as well as contamination of ocean and freshwater sources.
Aside from the above-mentioned reasons, fast fashion is fading away owing to soil degradation, rainforest destruction, and waste disposal problem. A family in the west discards about 30kg of clothes in a year. Of this, only 15% is recycled, and the rest is incinerated or goes to landfill. People have now reduced their dependence on fast fashion as it is more damaging to the environment than any other human activity. Instead of the use and throw concept, they now rely on recycled fabrics and sustainable practices. The focus on sustainable production and eco-friendly technologies has led to the slow death of fast fashion. The past couple of decades have seen the maximum fall in production of Fast Fashion.
Soil degradation due to the fashion industry poses a serious threat to global food security. This happens when there is overgrazing of pastures by goats and sheep that are bred for their wool. Soil is also degraded through the excessive use of chemicals to grow cotton. Also, wood-based fibers such as rayon result in deforestation to a large extent. People have started becoming climate-conscious and now look out for cleaner, greener, and more sustainable ways of production are evident from the fact that Fast fashion is dying a slow death. The consumer wants to engage with brands and companies that are known to tackle the above-mentioned problems. Companies that thrive on cleaner and greener production will be the companies of the future. With sustainable production the industry is set to grow by leaps and bounds.
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