The Dark Side of Fast-Fashion

Mar 22, 2021 | Investigation

Today, it is the most widespread mode of consumption of clothing in the world, fast fashion is definitely anchored in the capitalist economic model of our societies. With more than 100 billion items of clothing sold each year (OXFAM), many people are sounding the alarm about this unbridled consumption.

Historically speaking, fast fashion appeared in the 1990s with the arrival of brands such as Zara or H&M in fashion bastions (New York, London). Fast fashion is primarily about fashion brands that renew their collections very regularly. These are produced at low cost and thus sold at low prices. We are not going to come back here to the low-cost production which is done at the expense of the working conditions of the employees, indeed, that was the subject of a previous article. Nevertheless, fast fashion has an extremely negative impact on our environment.

Camouflaged in the midst of ever more sophisticated marketing strategies, the fast-fashion giants sell a huge number of products. To achieve this, these multinationals offer up to 52 collections per year. A figure that leaves you breathless when you consider that the fashion houses originally offered only one collection per season. Unethical but very well thought out, the business models of these large groups allocate large budgets for advertising and sponsorship where workers’ wages are extremely low.

The low cost of clothing means that fast fashion now favours materials that are, for the most part, non-renewable and petroleum-based, such as polyester and nylon. The cotton that we also find requires very important resources in water, but since the production must be intense, the soils are treated with more and more pesticides and GMOs in order to ensure the yield. Moreover, the vast majority of these clothes are manufactured in developing countries whose phytosanitary regulations are much more tolerant than in developed countries that have signed climate agreements. Thus, fast fashion is above all designed to meet the needs, sometimes ephemeral, of consumers.

Indeed, this trend has increased with social networks and the dictatorship of appearance and appearance, notably advocated by Instagram. With #outfitoftheday, to show off one’s outfit of the day or through partnerships with influencers, the fast-fashion industry has almost invented the disposable garment. Indeed, nowadays everything being so easily accessible in terms of price, there is a great tendency, firstly, to overconsumption and, secondly, to the “ephemeralization” of clothes that are worn much less than before before being thrown away.

The umpteenth factor to be taken into account when talking about consumption on a very large scale is transport. It is considered that a pair of jeans travels an average of 65,000 km from the cotton field to the shop, which is 1.5 times around the world (OXFAM). And for the clothes that do not find a buyer, a simple and effective solution is available to fast-fashion multinationals: the incinerator. Indeed, given the extremely low production costs, they do not bother to store unsold clothes in expensive warehouses and contribute to clothing waste. In Europe, 4 billion tons of clothing waste are thrown away per year, of which 20% of the clothes are recycled and 80% are thrown away or incinerated (OXFAM). Within our company, and more personally, this extremely critical situation for the planet is of concern to us. This is why we have decided to place ourselves at the opposite end of the fast-fashion spectrum by offering only made-to-measure designs. This means that we have no stock, no surplus, no waste. Every product ordered is made to measure and personalised to make sure it fits each person. Because the CEOs of fast-fashion companies may well be among the richest people in the world, at Melius Mundus we will continue to defend the quality of our products as well as their impact on the Earth, because, if the collections can be reduced by the hundreds, it is certain that our planet is not.

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