Fast fashion is killing our precious planet – Student Shout

Highbury College student Lotte Pegler looks at fashion’s impact on the environment

Monday, 15th April 2019, 5:32 pm
Updated Monday, 15th April 2019, 5:37 pm
Models and performers take part in the Extinction Rebellion's Fashion: Circus of Excess catwalk in Oxford Circus, London, to highlight the wasteful and disposable nature of the fashion industry.

When I was in primary school, my dad gave me and my brother each a backpack by a brand called Fjallraven Kanken, and I still use it to this day.

Thirteen years later I still use it and, other than a zip replacement it’s as good as new...

Fjallraven are thankfully becoming a more popular brand. Their bags appearing in Topshop and Urban Outfitters and if you take a scroll through their website you get a gist of their ethos. 

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They state that any well made item should last decades, as long as you look after it. Giving tips on caring for your possessions and repairing them rather than disposing of them is a major part of what they encourage.

It’s a refreshing contrast to the suffocating world of fast-fashion that we live in. 

Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Newlook, Primark...Each is wholly based around the changing of seasons and styles, reliant on people constantly wanting to refresh their wardrobe… Shoppers do not realise the impact the disposable fashion industry is having on the planet, and it’s inhabitants.

A documentary by Stacey Dooley released last year gave an overview of the terrifying truth. Businesses design clothing to be worn a few times then chucked away, cheaply made clothes barely last a season.

This is similar to the recent obsession with ‘hypebeast’ lifestyle. Based around fashion and branding, the trend has taken over the lives of countless teenage boys. Within this new idea, the brand Supreme has risen to a new high, and with it the rise in popularity of ‘drops’.

A drop creates a sense of urgency for customers, releasing limited edition items with little warning in advance, often for far more money than the product is actually worth.

Early last year, a collaboration between Rimowa and Supreme sold out in 16 seconds. The prices of the items started at  £1000. The collaboration was announced just three days ahead of the drop, simply through a photo on social media, along with the release date.

Drops have been able to flourish thanks to the combination of fast fashion and social media, brainwashing society into believing that we need to renew our wardrobe throughout the year, chucking out anything off-trend.

In order for brands to keep up with the high demand of constant fashion turnover, ‘environmental corners’ are cut, whether it be the impact of transporting the product across the world, or the actual sourcing and making of materials.

On top of that we also face the terrifying impact of the use of toxic chemicals and waste polluting water. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of clean water, something that shocked Greenpeace into introducing their recent ‘Detox’ campaign.

Washing polyester in a washing machine results in the fabric shedding micro fibres, adding to the already sky high levels of plastic in oceans, affecting both wildlife and people.

Few people are aware of the impact a £40 of Topshop Joni Jeans has had on the environment, the sacrifices that were made to get it.

In my opinion the best fashion items should be timeless. I have a black North Face puffer jacket that my mum used to own, it’s now 20 years old and I wear it every day. I own 2 pairs of Doc Marten shoes, both of which will last me years and years.

My dad has items of clothing that whilst aren’t the most fashionable, have lasted him 30 years… yet I have tops from Newlook that look worn and old after just one wash.

If we really want to fight this consumer driven, fast fashion industry - which we must - shoppers have to help make that change.

It doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend £200 on a sustainable top - just treat your clothing as an investment. Only put your money into something that will last you, that won’t be ‘unfashionable’ next season.

A few tops from your local high street store once a month might seem harmless, but the impact is major and we’ll be feeling the repercussions for years to come if nothing changes.