Impact of Fast Fashion on Designers

Due to the materials used in fast fashion and the design techniques that are limited in comparison to haute couture, it results in high implications on designers. There is a lot of waste and pollution mainly from chemicals in the clothing including dyes and bleaches.

When trying to address sustainability designers such as Stella McCartney have produced eco friendly collections with organic fabrics and low-impact dyes and avoid child labour by producing garments in Italy. This is extremely challenging though as there are less fabric and colour choices therefore most designers prefer to ignore the effects on the environment and rightly so because as Stella McCartney says “I am a fashion designer. I am not an environmentalist.”

Style Blazer, Giselle Childs, Is Fast Fashion A Friend or Foe? 2/10/13

Compared to most boutique designers who create around 50-100 pieces a year, fast fashion stores produce much, much more. Zara, for instance, produces around 10,000 new items per year. Critics of fast fashion argue that such mass production reduces creativity, authenticity, and originality, and environmentalists are concerned about the effect it has on the environment. Each year the fashion industry creates 2 million tons of waste, produces 2.1 million tons of CO2 (which directly contributes to the greenhouse effect, thereby warming the planet), and uses 70 million tons of water.

Fast fashion stores don’t need to be crossed off of your list entirely, but savvy shoppers should be aware of the effects of purchasing items from these stores. Luckily, some companies are committed to making a difference and over 300 retailers–including ASOS–have signed on to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan. The plan aims to improve the fashion industry by “producing, selling, and disposing of waste without damaging the environment and only working with countries with strict labor fairness regulations.”

As an up and coming stylist, I do understand the concerns that are made regarding waste and unsustainable fabrics however it is so much easier for a designer to dismiss these issues and isn’t of a major concern to most people in the fashion industry, including myself. We see the end result as what is important, not what it took to achieve by the amount of water that was used or the low paying of workers.

Even though we would love to save the planet while making the hottest trends, it cannot always be done due to expenses and lack of sustainable resources. When a designer does make the decision to make an eco-friendly collection they never do it quietly and it will always be a top fashion story. Their contribution to help the environment can never seem to go unnoticed because then they clearly would not be able to make enough profit on the collection that would have cost twice as much as usual.


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