Fast Fashion: A State of Constant Waste

by DrPrem Jagyasi

Fashion and sustainability don’t really mix well, despite it being innovative and also glamorous. Apart from big labels like Edun and Stella McCartney, most labels are still apprehensive about sustainability.

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The last five years has however seen some international brands like Zara, Adidas and Valentino taking up the responsibility to go green by launching some initiatives of their own. These companies have started to use recycled materials to manufacture their products, while others have started recycling drives that encourage their consumers to donate used clothing and give extensive information detailing carbon footprint of the items that they sell. These initiatives have been launched with a lot of PR, which is good for the green cause; these brands have taken the responsibility of using their brand image to get people to be more eco friendly.

Their initiatives and campaigns are a sign that people are changing their minds and are making advancements towards sustainability within industries. But there is a doubt about whether these are just smart marketing moves that appeal to consumers during a time of environment awareness.

This scrutiny has been brought up because of brands like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M; these companies normally sell fashion items that are designed to become obsolete with changing trends. Their trendy and inexpensive items are replaced every couple of months or so by the more recent trends. On other words, their business model involves items that are disposed off eventually. This leads to wastage and is not really eco friendly as most of these garments end up in landfills.

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H&M launched its Conscious Collection- one that uses organic cotton, recycled plastic bottles and cellulose fiber in 2007 and has since then been one of the top users of this material; they hope that all cotton used by them will either be recycled or organic by the year 2020. Critics say that rapid changes in trends lead to excessive consumption. The company had in response launched a recycling campaign where old H&M garments can be exchanged for discounts. This campaign helps consumers to directly participate in reducing textile waste. Critics found this initiative to be a marketing gimmick that actually encourages unnecessary consumption, where consumers give clothes and get discount that will make them buy even more clothes that will ultimately be replaced.

But environmentalists still believe that these big brands should alter their practices as they have the power to bring about some real change through their actions.

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