y now, we all – hopefully – know that fast fashion, the rapid recreation and offering for sale of trendy, runway designs for dirt cheap prices, comes with a slew of ugly truths, ones that the industry would prefer consumers did not know about. Here’s a small peek at what’s behind the couture curtain.
The fashion industry is designed to make you feel “out of trend” after one week.
Once upon a time, there were two fashion seasons: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Fast forward to 2016 and the fashion industry is churning out 52 “micro-seasons” per year. With new trends coming out every week,the goal of fast fashion is for consumers to buy as many garments as possible, as quickly as possible. That’s the fast fashion model: high turnover of low cost items.
“Discounts” aren’t really discounts.
Outlet stores offer designer labels at a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, the “excess” or unsellable items we think we’re buying often have never seen a designer label before. Despite common belief, outlet clothing never enters a regular store and is most likely produced in an entirely different factory than the regular clothing. A few of the companies that have faced lawsuit in connection with false pricing?
They’d Rather Waste Than Damage Their “Brands“.
Ever wonder what happens to garments that go unsold? They don’t all go to outlet malls—they get destroyed. Every once in a while, a big retailer gets caught destroying garments, or “damaging out” unsold merchandise, leaving people to wonder why they don’t donate the garments to the poor. Well, if the homeless lady at the bus station was wearing Victoria’s Secret sweatpants that she got for free at the shelter, who would pay $50 for them? Maintaining a brand’s image is all about pricing them and marketing them so that the “right” people wear them, projecting the image the brand wants to create. Retailers would rather see clothes burned than given to people who wouldn’t project the right image.
There is lead and hazardous chemicals on your clothing.
According to the Center for Environmental Health, popular fast-fashion chains are still selling lead-contaminated purses, belts and shoes above the legal amount, years after signing a settlement agreeing to limit the use of heavy metals in their products.
Clothing is designed to fall apart.
Fast fashion giants are concerned with the bottom line and the bottom line alone. Their business models are dependent on the consumers’ desire for new clothing to wear, which is instinctive if the clothing falls apart after just a few washes.
They Still Rely on Sweatshops.
Even if it wasn’t made in China or Bangladesh or Indonesia, there’s a good chance that a garment was still produced under sweatshop conditions. A tag that reads, “Made in Italy” is the gold standard in fashion, suggesting quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. However, the reality is far from the fantasy of an elderly cobbler making shoes by hand. The luxury goods factories in the Italian garment districts are now staffed with tens of thousands of immigrant Chinese laborers, who are paid far less than the Italian minimum wage.
Beading and sequins are an indication of child labor.
Industry estimates suggest that 20 to 60 percent of garment production is sewn at home by informal workers. Often with the help of their children, the home workers sew as fast as they can and for as long as daylight allows to embellish and bedazzle the clothes that end up in our closets.
Design Theft is Rampant—and It’s Okay.
Fast-fashion retailers knock off designs they see at runway shows, and even designers themselves appropriate design elements from each other. Not to mention all those purses on the sidewalks in Chinatown. But although the industry talks a big line about how knock-offs and counterfeiting hurt their sales and hinder creativity, the truth is that in some ways, designers may actually benefit from both. Knock-offs are marketed to a very different segment of the market than true designer fashions, and they serve to bring appreciation for high fashion to a larger group of consumers, who eventually get tired of owning the knock-off and start wanting the real thing. Counterfeit bags heighten the perceived value of the real ones, suggesting that the reason they were counterfeited in the first place was that they were so desirable and so in-demand.