Over quarantine, due to the fact that people couldn’t go outside, people turned to online stores to buy anything; from clothes to furniture to dogs even, people had everything shipped safely to their house. This culture of buying easily and quickly from the comfort of your own home has only increased since covid. Although the ability to buy anything from anywhere with just the click of a button is very attractive, we must also realise that fast fashion brands have been especially detrimental for the environment and for worker health.
Shops like Shein sadly produce all their inventory in sweatshops in Thailand and China where basic labour laws (like child labour laws, minimum wage and more) are habitually overlooked. The conditions that the workers are exposed to are so abysmal that they have tried to beg for help many times by sending signals to the shoppers; signals like leaving notes and even sewing a special tag that said “help me”. Instead of holding themselves accountable, however, Shein launched a social media campaign where they said that the tag was on purpose and it was actually asking you to help keep the clothes in good condition by washing them carefully.
Social media has fuelled the consumerist nature of people by constantly shoving new trends and products that they must have because it’s the ‘best thing ever’. Because of this, the rise of microtrends has been seen. These microtrends usually consist of bold patterns, flashy feathers and vivid colours which are disposed of just as quickly as they’re bought. This is unsustainable as it makes the life cycle of clothes not only notably shorter but also more damaging as the clothes not only start to pile up in landfills but also in thrift stores, where Shein clothes are taking over the racks.
In order to give clothes a more sustainable life cycle, we should focus on where they end up after we’re done with them. Personally, I usually sell my clothes on second-hand apps like depop or donate them to a church where they are distributed to the people who need it the most. Also, to lengthen the life cycle of the clothes, we should invest in timeless closet staples which are assured not to go out of fashion in a matter of weeks; which is the case with most micro trends.
Not only does this save the environment, it also saves the money that would have been spent on the clothes that would’ve only been worn once.
Cover image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_fashion#/media/File:Photo_by_Mona_Mijthab,_July_2011_(6349812257).jpg