Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Remember that moment when you clean out your wardrobe and find 7 dresses you only wore once? Or when you see your friend wearing a really cool t-shirt that he bought from Zara and when you went to buy it, it just wasn’t there?
If you relate to such incidents, then I formally welcome you,
To the world of fast fashion.
Where collections change faster than your WhatsApp DP.
Fast fashion emerged due to brand creating knock-off runway looks. Within weeks of an outfit being worn by a famous celebrity or in a fashion show, brands like TopShop and ZARA create knockoffs. These aren’t exact copies but similar looking products but celebrities change clothes every day and there are so many fashion shows!
This is exactly what the problem is.
Brands are creating these knock-offs and people are buying them like crazy. An average American buys 68 pieces of clothing a year. Unbelievable? It is the truth.
Ever since clothing giants like Zara replaced the biannual clothing cycle with a weekly cycle, textile consumption has increased by 400% in two decades. But you may ask how does it matter after all more consumption means more money in the economy right?
A major problem that emerges here is of resource consumption. A single piece of the jacket can take up to thousands of litres of water or oil, in case of synthetic fabrics. 33% of the world’s viscose comes from endangered forests and 70% of that wood gets wasted during the process and the waste is then dumped in rivers. Apart from that, another issue is disposal. Almost 90% of the garments produced are burnt. Even the ones that you have ‘recycled’.
And even after knowing all this, brands are still encouraging you to shop more. Inditex, Zara’s parent company alone made 1.6 billion pieces of clothing in 2018. And even for its 2000+ stores worldwide, it is a lot.
But amongst all this, we found a gem. Patagonia.
Patagonia insists people buy less. Even in its advertisements it asks its customers to buy an article of clothing only if they really need it. Patagonia’s brand mission is to change people’s relationship to things and encourage them to become more conscious, careful consumers.
These sustainable initiatives also create a unique brand experience. Buying Patagonia lets people feel they’re contributing to a larger movement while making a personal choice to
This is called Ethical Marketing and can be quite effective as it takes a moral stand against issues. Additionally, it should be noted that 75% of consumers say they are likely to take negative action against an irresponsible company. This makes ethical marketing even more advantageous.
This is quite different from the Greenwashing that H&M indulges in.
In some of their stores, H&M has installed these bins which say that recycle your old clothes and get a 15% discount on your next purchase. Here instead of reducing your consumption like in Patagonia’s case, H&M’s strategy works on increasing it. So people get the feeling of doing good, although, in reality, they’ve contributed next to nothing.
The fashion industry is the second largest polluter of clean water globally. So the next time you’re about to buy those hot yoga pants, do think twice. Maybe collectively, we can help keep a river clean.