Social media has thrown around the term fast fashion so often that its devastating actions have been diluted. Fast fashion is the replication of recent designer trends at a low price to stock retail racks while demand is high. Not only does it devalue the hard work of designers and creators — it also contributes to the severity of major environmental and social issues like environmental waste and slavery.
The fashion industry sends approximately 40 million tons of textiles to landfills that pollute the air, according to Earth.org. The industry also holds second place as a contributor to modern slavery. Yes, your clothes are coming to you at a low cost, but at whose expense?
Some attribute the rise of micro trends — clothing that quickly goes in and out of style — to fast fashion. When influencers hyperfixate and promote specific styles, the fast fashion industry mass produces the trend that consumers outgrow before it can make a lasting impact.
A great example of the effect of micro trends is Zooey Deutch’s character in her most recent movie, “Not Okay.” Director Quinn Shephard intended to portray Deutch’s character Dani Sanders as an out-of-touch Gen Zliving in the midst of a struggling environment facing real issues. Shepherd’s use of micro trends inadvertently heightens Sanders’ insufferability as a main character.
Everything about the way Sanders presents herself, from her hairstyle to her nail color, represents out-of-date styles that viewers will recognize as cringe-worthy. This personality trait emphasizes her character’s inability to understand real-world issues like environmental awareness. Viewers were quick to criticize the character without realizing they can easily fall into the same pattern.
Influencers have come forth saying, “nothing is trending, because everything is trending.” Micro trends and fast fashion have created an adverse effect emphasizing individuality and aesthetic creativity. Now, it’s trendy not to take part in trends. Creators are embracing individual identities and expressing themselves through a unique style, apart from what may be the latest micro trend. This latest wave has influenced an interest in thrifting and shopping sustainably.
Here at UM, UThrift is a student organization on campus that supports sustainable fashion through thrifting. Once a week, students can donate used clothing in exchange for free clothing.
Third year criminology and anthropology major and UThrift member Ariana Garcia shared some insight on whether trends were still in style and how fast fashion has contributed to the rise of micro trends.
“I think nothing is trending because people are looking for things that are cute, quick, simple and cheap,” Garcia said.
Garcia then offers a solution to this fast-paced mindset when consumers aren’t thinking long-term–thrifting. But even though thrifting has risen in popularity, many are still turned off by the idea of buying used or even “dirty” clothes.
“It’s not like that,” Garcia said. “I’m someone who likes to shop and I don’t want to leave a carbon footprint. It’s just clothes at the end of the day. At Goodwill, you can find timeless pieces that are going to last you.”
As opposed to the countless items that will go out of style next month, Garcia said that by shopping sustainably you decrease your carbon footprint and make an even bigger statement through your clothing’s own unique story.
This push for individuality has proven beneficial for small creators and designers. In an effort to shop sustainably, environmentally-aware consumers are looking to support local businesses to buy pieces that will last.
Tonight I feel crushed, @SHEIN_official has stolen my Amelia sweater design.
Spent hours designing and brainstorming this design and it takes days to crochet each sweater. It’s quite disheartening to see my hard work reduced to a machine made copy. 💔 pic.twitter.com/vLagM3WiKq
— Elyon Adede (@TheElleyy) July 16, 2021
However, fast fashion has come to take down this small victory towards sustainable fashion. In recent claims, small designers have come forth with claims that notorious fast fashion brands, such as Shein are stealing their designs. Fast fashion has moved from copying designs straight off the runway and those of small creators trying to make their designs successful.
Now, you may think all is lost. Fast fashion has found a way to hurt all sides of sustainable fashion, but the ability for change is the responsibility of the individual.
Become aware of who and what you are supporting when you shop. Destigmatize thrifting and become a part of the story that pre-loved clothing tells. Fashion is fueled by self expression, creativity and an open-mind. Don’t let yourself get trapped in a trend.