Hemangi Gurjar, [2nd year BA LLB student at NMIMS Kirit P Mehta School of Law]
The world follows and keeps track of fashion trends and new outfits more than it does anything else. The need to always keep up with new fashion statements by top tier brands led to the increase of fast fashion and while the beginning might not have struck one as being problematic, but as the intensity of the practice increased got the more problematic has the concept of fast fashion become and is now being referred to as a feminist issue because it’s a system that mainly relies on the disempowerment and exploitation of female garment workers in developing countries.
To those unfamiliar with the term, fast fashion is expensive, cheaply made clothing which is rapidly produced by a large number of mass-market retailers in response to the latest and most popular trends by big brands and even other new fashion trends and it mostly relies on outsourced labour which is often underpaid and majorly consists of the black and brown women.
It also heavily relies on the excessive use of the earth‘s natural resources and the problem arises when the clothing is so cheap that it generally makes people think that it is disposable and they barely use a particular item more than twice. Fast fashion also involves a lot of issues with copying designers which has created a lot of issues between big brands and smaller businesses who sell knockoffs of exact replicas of these established brands.
Fast fashion makes people think that what they own and have is not good enough and does not keep up with the trends and that there is a need for them to buy more clothes and more things that comply with fashion trends in order to look better. These materials used in making products under this category are made mostly with polyester and that is derived from fossil fuels which also sheds micro plastics into our water systems every time it is washed and it also contributes to environmental racism and health complications for those who make it.
While the issue has started to gain the traction that it needs to raise awareness and make people aware about what their fashion choices are doing to this earth it also needs to be understood that a change will occur only when every individual takes a step at a personal level and start researching where their money is going and who is going to to make sure that it does not go to organisations that feed off of cultural racism and profits of the labour of women.
When talking about fast fashion it is also necessary to talk about sustainable fashion which has gained a lot of media attention again since the MET Gala of 2021 because singer Billie Eilish convinced the popular luxury brand Oscar de la renta to stop using fur and she would, only then, wear their outfit to the extremely popular yearly function. The brand complied and promised to go fur-free from then on which received huge applaud from everyone because it was not only a step towards the protection of animals but also of the environment and sustainable fashion overall. Following this, another one of the world’s largest luxury fashion brands, Kering Group also announced that it will stop selling fur and declared that they will be going fur-free starting their fall collection in 2022 which also implies that Saint Laurent which also known as YSL and another brand Brioni, which had been using fur up until recently will also be going ceasing their use of fur because the Kering owns other multiple luxury brands too which had already announced that they will be going for free and released their policies for the same.
The world has plenty of things which are making it hard for us to have a sustainable future and so, fashion and everyday clothing should not be a problem which escalates it and makes the situation worse. Everybody needs to understand that there one time Lok costs a great deal of labour to the person who is being exploited under the garb of fast fashion and it also contributes to societal issues which will cease to exist only if everybody is aware about the problems that are arising because of small everyday decisions made by us.