There are many new things to be excited about with spring right around the corner. Between the upcoming spring break and the warm weather, it's almost time to put away the puffy coats and bask in the Nebraska sunshine. And with spring comes spring cleaning. That is, spring closet-cleaning.
Now is a better time than ever to start stocking up on warm-weather styles. While brands like SHEIN and FashionNova may seem perfect to amass a large wardrobe while on a college budget, the negative consequences of buying into these fast fashion brands outweigh the short term gratification they bring.
Brands such as SHEIN, Zara, FashionNova and H&M dominate the modern fashion scene. But what makes them fast fashion? This term was coined by a company’s ability to unveil multiple new designs and products each week, releasing clothing as or before the trend begins. This is what makes fast fashion appealing to young adults, with social media apps such as Tik Tok and Instragram pushing styles in and out of trend at a rapid pace.
The demand for these styles puts pressure on the companies to keep pushing them until they're sold out or the trend is dead, and then the pattern repeats. The winning strategy for these companies is their price points. Though fast fashion brands stock ever-evolving styles and products, they offer them at low prices, allowing individuals to buy more of these products and participate in these trends without having to be wealthy.
In order to make significant quantities of clothes at such a low price point, the manufacturers use dyes that are more toxic and unsustainable. The runoff from these dyes pollute water, seeping into the surrounding soils and water bodies. Individuals also throw away these articles of clothing at a high rate, due to their low quality and emphasis on trendy style.
Five percent of all landfill waste is textile based — the average person will throw away 70 pounds of clothing each year. The textiles industry emits more greenhouse gas than international shipping and aviation combined. Moreover, companies such as H&M incinerate their old stocks of clothes, further contributing to world pollution.
Along with the environmental impacts, fast fashion is heavily impacting the lives of its laborers. Because the price point is so low, most of the companies engaged in fast fashion source their labor from sweatshops. Sweatshops provide unlivable wages to their workers, long hours and poor working conditions. Some have reported that they work 14-17 hour days and get paid nearly nothing for their labor.
Aside from all of these negative consequences, fast fashion provides multiple benefits for individuals who purchase from them. It allows people from all income groups and backgrounds to be involved in these trends and feel confident in their aesthetic or ideal style.
The low price points are appealing to not only trend-savvy consumers, but low-income families as well. It allows those families to buy new clothes for prices they potentially could not afford at an average retail store.
While these pros may seem worth it in the short term, it is more conscientious to invest in sustainable clothing or shop at thrift stores. Thrift shops usually carry better quality garments at a price point that is comparable or lower than that of fast fashion, and thrift shops don’t carry the same negative consequences as fast fashion.
As the target demographic for fast fashion, college-aged consumers hold significant influence in the success of these companies and the standards they operate by.
For this spring, engage in sustainable practices such as thrifting and buying from companies that operate by higher ethical standards. It will not only help curb the detrimental effects fast fashion has on our planet, but it will add unique and stylish pieces to your wardrobe that you can feel proud of.
Alexia Woodall is a freshman accounting major. Reach her at email@example.com.