The piling up of orders at Shein, the poor quality of the clothes in many big shops, the “made in China” label on almost all garments. Actually, we are aware that fast fashion has a negative impact on the environment, yet many continue to buy from fast fashion producers. This statement is supported by our survey.
About 3/8 of our respondents from our survey buy their clothes from a sustainable shop. The rest shop at H&M, Zara and the like. However, over 80% of them are aware of the dangers that fast fashion brings.
Why don’t they do anything about it? What does fast fashion mean and what can we do about it?
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion is comprehended as cheap clothes that are produced in huge masses. The idea is that consumers can follow all the trends in the fashion industry. Manufacturers produce the clothes in large quantities and put them on the market as quickly as possible to meet popular demand and make a profit.
The production of clothing at low prices and in large quantities often leads to poor quality and substandard working conditions in production, especially in countries with low wages. Furthermore, synthetic materials are often used, which have harmful effects on the environment.
What effects does it have on consumers and workers?
The consequences fast fashion has on the workers in the industry are severe. The employees are being exploited by their minimum wage salaries. Additionaly to that they have to work long hours, are forced to work without any safety gear and can not miss work or else they will be fired immediately. This influences their physical and mental health that it can even go as far as to them wanting to decease.
The effects on the customers aren’t as fatal as the ones for the workers. Fast Fashion promotes impulsive and ecessive consumption which leads to a full closet but with lots of microplastic and harmful fibers. It is also threatening to the environment because the clothes are not being disposed correctly. Other than that the clothes also are not the best quality and therefore can not be worn for too long. It happens often that some have to replace a piece of clothing yearly because it is in bad shape.
Why do some not care, what consequences Fast Fashion has?
The reasons why some people are not interested in the consequences of fast fashion or push them aside are different. A lack of awareness and transparency about the production process means that shoppers do not understand the impact of their purchases. Moreover, consumers do not think in the long term. They are easily influenced by trendy and cheap clothes. In addition, there are not enough alternatives on the market and many suppliers advertise sustainable clothes that are not sustainable. For this, they use the PR method “greenwashing“. The public is lied to in this process, because the manufacturer makes misleading claims about a product. This method can be observed at the large corporations “H&M” and “Primark”.
Measures against Fast Fashion
- Re-use clothing (Shirts as a cleaning cloth)
- Pass down clothes in the family
- Purchase clothing from sustainable providers
- Second-hand clothing
- Stitch damaged pieces up
Our collaboration partners are Evan Thomas Kaduthanam, Rinita Riju and Abinav Adarsh from India. Furthermore we also collaborated with Rinesa Berisha from Albania.
Comparison Switzerland, Albania and India
Fast fashion is an important issue in Switzerland. The population has a high clothing consumption, but there is growing awareness of the negative impacts such as poor working conditions and environmental pollution. There is an increasing demand for sustainable fashion and transparency from companies. The recycling and trading industry for used clothing is lucrative in Switzerland, with companies like Texaid, Tell-Tex, and Caritas Switzerland being active in this sector. To address these issues, people are advocating for conscious purchasing decisions, a circular economy, and stricter standards.
Fashion holds personal importance for me as it boosts my confidence, reflects my personality, and allows me to express myself. As consumers, we can make the fast fashion industry more sustainable by buying fewer non-organic and environmentally harmful clothes. Additionally, fast fashion brands should prioritize using organic and recyclable materials, as well as implementing recycling strategies. While I’m not familiar with many international brands, Gucci, Marine Serre, and PANGAIA are known for their efforts in sustainable fashion. In Addition, Fight or Flight (fightorflightstudio.com), a fashion studio in Tirana, Albania, produces sustainable streetwear and made-to-measure clothing. In the future, I hope to see the industry embrace more eco-friendly materials, fabrics, and packaging that do not harm our lives or nature.
Sustainability is not a top priority in fashion for many people in India, but the awareness is growing of the negative impacts of fast fashion. Efforts are being made to balance it by reusing clothing and occasionally buying sustainable items. Quality is preferred over trendy clothing, and the importance of slow fashion and durability is recognized. Brands like “Fabindia” offer sustainable options. While fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M are trying to be more sustainable, the global environmental impact of fast fashion is concerning. To reduce this impact, giving away old clothes for reuse and passing them down within families are seen as effective strategies. Fashion plays a significant role in personal confidence, and individual style is prioritized over following trends. Creating awareness through discussions and social media can help make the fashion industry more sustainable
Our Interview partner for this project is Sandra’s cousin. He is 20 years old and is currently studying psychology in St. Gallen. We asked him some question as to why humans ignore the dangers of fast fashion and what could prevent more damage.
Our project on fast fashion has provided us with profound insights into the devastating impacts of this industry on the environment and the workers. The fashion industry has become one of the largest contributors to environmental pollution, and the fast production of cheap clothing leads to resource and textile waste. Workers are exploited under inhumane conditions while fashion corporations reach high profits. As consumers, we bear the responsibility to make conscious purchases and buy sustainable fashion. By wearing and reusing clothes for longer periods, we can conserve resources. Our project has motivated us to make positive change. Each one of us can make a significant difference through small adjustments in our consumption behavior. It has become evident that the fashion industry urgently needs change for more sustainability and fairness.
We are pleased that our project has progressed smoothly and with minimal complications. We have expanded our knowledge and learned new things along the way. The collaboration with our partners has been beneficial in comparing countries. We look forward to receiving your feedback.
Delvina Berisha and Sandra Cindric
 Nachhaltige Mode oder Fast Fashion? (greenpeace.org)
 Warum boomt die Fast Fashion Industrie immer noch? (fashionchangers.de)
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