Fast Fashion is still something relatively new. Today, we are producing 80 billions of clothes each year, it is 400 % more than 20 years ago. This data speaks for itself. We used to buy and like a clothe for its quality. Now, we buy pieces and we can buy nearly the same the month or the day after: x t-shirts, x jeans: one for each event!
The way we buy clothes has changed so much and so fast that no one has really taken the step back to understand this new model causes and its consequences. I’d like to share though this article few facts that could encourage to question this new consumption. If you want to go further, you should watch a documentary on the subject: “The True Cost”.
This sudden consumer frenzy, for purchasing clothing, go hand in hand with several factors:
Take for example the psychological price of a jean (the price that a consumer is ready to buy), today it is 20 € for 73% of French people.
lsa-conso.fr selon une étude de Simon-Kucher
If you look at the price of clothing over the last 20 years, you’ll see a real deflation. Prices have decreased and at first glance, this is not a bad news. we are used to buy a jeans for 19,90 € or a T-shirt for 4,99 €, otherwise we find it too expensive! The only problem is that the only point in the supply chain where the margin can be reduced to achieve a such price is about the manufacturing or the stuff used to make it. The manufacturers are constrained to produce more and faster lower clothing with low quality. And for this reason, they are increasingly ignoring safety standards or non-use of harmful substances to our health.
These subcontractors gave in to pressure to produce the same T-shirt for 10 cents less, otherwise the competitor next door will do it. And When these factories ignore safety standards, it gives dramas like the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013 with more than a thousand deaths. These dramas are quickly forgotten because the textile industry would have the advantage of creating jobs in these developing countries with conditions much less dangerous than in other industries because sewing clothing has never killed anyone. Well.. it did apparently!
Regarding the raw materials used to make our clothes, cotton for example. We condemn more naturally the use of pesticides or GMO in our food and it is easier to consider the interest of eating an organic apple for our body.
Indeed the textile industry is the most polluting industry in the world behind the petroleum industry. If we consider:
- The amount of pesticides and GMOs used to increase productivity and production of textile raw material
- Chemicals such as colorations used in manufacturing
- Or many chemical substances used to package and transport our clothing from Asia
It is still difficult to realize the harmful effects of clothing on health or about people who produce them! And the worst part is that we sometimes even wear them without a first wash.
If you consider the argu a step further, Guido Brera in the documentary finds that the things people really need: house, car, life insurance … have become too expensive and they console themselves by buying 1 or 2 T-shirts for a party or even a day. Fast Fashion brands make them believe that they are healthy because they can buy a lot but they are really the only ones to get rich. H&M for example has an annual income of 18 billions!
This purchasing behavior lead to materialistic values, where image, status and position take an increasingly important place in the individual’s life, and many studies have shown that it reduces the access conditions to happiness, and increase depressive factors. We should almost add a mention on our clothes:
“Watch out, shopping can be dangerous for health!”
Should we find it normal or even buy consciously a jeans at 19,90€ ? I ask myself.
¹ Data from “The True Cost” documentary ; photos credit : Pinterest