I liken fast fashion to fast food. It’s instant gratification, cheap, plentiful and tastes great but makes you feel sick afterwards. There are ramifications to your health later in life if you’ve consumed too much of it. The same applies to fast fashion. While the repercussions aren’t health related, they’re no less important. It’s easy to get sucked into it when you’re looking at a sweater that cost no more than £17 or £10 for a pair of jeans. You rationalize. It’s ONLY £10 but these small figures do add up with frequent consumption and before you know it, the total of your credit card statement is staggering. I’m speaking from experience here……..
High street brands are essentially a vehicle to satiate our voracious appetite for fashion. They’re smart to jump on the bandwagon to milk it for what it’s worth. It’s a causal effect of supply and demand or is it the other way round? They’ll always be someone entrepreneurial enough to meet a need. The main objective of collaborations with popular designers (Isabel Marant pour H&M comes to mind) is to reel those with supposedly more sophisticated palette and deeper pocket to move over to the dark side. If this demographic of potential customers can afford to spend £800 on a coat, imagine how often they will frequent the store? The designer gets a huge payout, the company gets a ton of publicity, plenty of foot traffic and sales. The general public are given the rare opportunity to purchase expensive designer clothes at basement bargain prices. So in effect, win-win-win. Or is it?
Somebody has to pay the price. No matter what or how these large multi billion dollar companies fervently preach about corporate social responsibility (CSR), it’s all utter bullshit. If it hurts their pocket and delivers wrath from their shareholders, they'll switch team in an instant. Few care about slave like working conditions, the use of dangerous chemicals, pumping chemically ridden waste into river and sea and so forth. The contracted factories in third world or developing nations are squeezed out of every penny to reduce operating costs in order to maximize profit. Never mind if they refuse because they will take their million dollar contract and find another factory elsewhere. The cost reducing exercise trickles down to the employees who are paid a pittance and worked in unsafe conditions.
Let’s go back to my rather cynical view of most CSR bullshits. Take a look at the supposedly, waste not, want not approach taken by my favorite handbag maker, Hermes. They recycled their waste by creating a new line called Petit H. Guys, let’s just call a spade, a spade. It’s a money making marketing ploy to get rid of materials that they were throwing away and charging an absolute fortune for things that no one really needs. Key chain for £400, crocodile leather sleeve for disposable coffee cup, anyone?
I find the warped speed that fashion collections are being churned out exhausting. There's little appreciation for the designs before the next set of clothes are paraded yet again, thus the intense cycle around shows and marketing begins yet again. What are we teaching the younger generation, particularly those in their teens? It's ok to go into debt and consume endlessly? It's all about how you look. Superficiality rules? My question is, why are we consuming so much of it?