YOUTH VIEW: The high cost of chasing the latest ‘look’
It’s hard not to be mesmerised by the bright colours, beautiful models and showmanship of the catwalk, writes Joseph Dobbyn.
The upper echelons of the fashion world are mystical and distant places of absurd hats and stylish but impractical shoes. Nowadays, high fashion has trickled down and eventually flooded the high street at a great expense.
‘Fast Fashion’ is the movement of designs from catwalk to high street in the cheapest and most efficient way possible. It dominates the textiles industry and, on face value, is fantastic. Fast fashion is affordable, en vogue and accessible – we don’t have to look far down a street or too deep on the internet to know that we will get high fashion at a low price.
But as the cost of clothing drops, someone somewhere must pay the price.
Fast fashion is making the industry a dismal place. The nature of fashion is that it moves fast and its speed makes it reckless. Driven by profit, the quality of clothes and manufacturer’s consciences have plummeted along with the prices. Not so long ago, clothes were made with care and made to last. Now, more time and money goes into sophisticated advertising rather than the wages of those who make them. Availability and constant demand for seasonal redesigns and ‘new lines’ added almost weekly, have made fashion the second most polluting industry in the world. Cheap clothes come at a huge cost.
Treacherous factories, poisonous chemicals, pathetically low wages for workers and millions of kilos of waste are embedded in the very nature of fast fashion and it is destroying our planet at a worrying rate. Admittedly, most people are probably tired of hearing that everything we do will melt a glacier and drown a polar bear – we think that we ‘don’t have a choice’ and pollution is simply the inevitable price we pay for cheap clothing.
Recently, these implications have come under scrutiny as more people are becoming cynical of fast fashion. Entrepreneurs and designers are in a race against time to counteract what they view as a shameful mutation of their craft. Luckily, the conveniently named ‘slow fashion’ is exploding in popularity. This counter-movement focuses on good quality clothes that last, sustainable production and fair costs for the workers and the customers. Through the timelessness of their craft, these small businesses aim to create an emotional connection between the product and the consumer, so everything is loved and lasts and nothing goes to waste. Start-ups such as Community Clothing spend no money on advertising, celebrity endorsements or seasonal redesigns instead focusing efforts entirely on sustainability, quality and affordability. Resultant prices are higher but the consumer can be comfortable wearing what they buy knowing that the little extra cost has made the world a slightly better place.
No matter how glamorous the idea of an ever-fashionable wardrobe, it is damaging. Instant and cheap gratification is unsustainable.
So, remember this for the next time you’re planning on a shopping spree: buy less, buy sustainable and protect people, artists and our planet.