Written by Abigail Rose Richards
It was another one of those late nights where you are scrolling through TikTok and you see the newest fashion trend every influencer is showing off, a groovy green knitted dress. You click the shop link, and it quickly reveals the whopping price, completely out of your budget. But, you must have it, so you go to Shein.com and see the same dress for under $20. When your package arrives, the quality is horrendous and the dress doesn't fit you whatsoever. So, you throw it in your dresser, where it sits there for months before you throw it away into the trash. After all, the trend has expired over the course of a couple weeks.
This exact scenario has happened much too often with the fast fashion industry’s recent rise in popularity over the last two years, which has led to a massive increase in clothing pollution. As social media adapts to a rapid change in fashion trends, young viewers seek out to buy trends as soon as possible, and for as cheap as possible, before the trend disappears within a few weeks. According to Princeton University, not only have the products been found to have poisonous material which damages the environment, but is also toxic to workers and consumers. Most of these industries market to the Generation Z audience, or those born from 1997 to 2012. Have HCC college students caught this “Fast Fashion Fever?”
Kassidy Kerrigan, a sophomore at HCC and aspiring elementary school teacher, claims she often buys from online fast fashion businesses, and notices how they appeal to college students.
“I think they know their pieces are ‘cheap,’ which college kids often see as affordable,” Kerrigan said. “But because college kids label it as affordable, they also aren’t upset about the quality. These students are less inclined to spend $20-$30 on a quality top, opposed to $2-$3 on a cheaply made top.”
“Most college students don’t even consider the outcomes or consequences for others when they buy things. So, we are a constant consumer that probably won’t stop buying just because of harsh effects on the planet, or harmful working environments.” Kerrigan said.
In her second year at HCC, psychology major Lindsay Bell, says staying stylish and taking part in fashion trends is essential to her self expression.
“People come from varying socioeconomic statuses and their budgets differ. Cheap, fast fashion companies are so appealing to all audiences with their very low prices and trending clothing. Who doesn’t want to save money on clothes? I believe that consumers have a duty to ethically consume, but I also believe that these companies should produce better quality, much longer lasting, and more ethically sourced clothing.”
Helen Clark, an adjunct English professor at HCC, shares that she is familiar with the environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry.
“We can make do with a capsule wardrobe and don't have to keep buying more stuff. It's a waste of resources and money and it's horrible for our planet, because so much does end up in landfills.”
Clark also stated that she is grateful that she gets alot of her clothes from her sister, and only buys things from general merchandise stores that she knows will stay in style.
“I donate a lot of items to Goodwill and other charities. I also donate a lot of items to people in a Facebook group called Freecycle in Montgomery County. It makes me feel great when other people can use my stuff, and then my stuff doesn't end up in a landfill.”
“We have to rethink our relationship with buying things. We are a consumer-based economy and are constantly getting messages that we need the latest thing in order to be attractive or successful. We don't.” Clark said.
The little things matter when it comes to being an ethical consumer in a fast obsessed society. Buying clothing items in consideration of its sustainability, and donating to local charity stores can make all the difference for our Mother Earth.
Maybe this mindset is the antidote for this “Fast Fashion Fever”.