America is a consumerist society. We buy more and more things, coming up with new things we need every day. Fashion is no exception to this. With the invention of the internet, fashion has taken on a life of it’s own.
It moves faster and cycles through seasons at an alarming rate, trends disappearing almost as quickly as they arrive. Designers spend months creating new lines, and after they are published online, brands like Forever21 and H&M create imitations of their work for girls who can’t afford the real deal.
I will admit, I have been one of these girls, a girl who buys the Zara ruffle dress I know was made to copy someone else’s ideas. It’s tempting, these mega-stores with their cheap recreations of the runways.
However, behind their allure is something sinister, a monster of our consumerism, global supply chains and never-ending demand for the Next Big Thing.
The clothes from fast fashion stores like these are made in mass quantity, as quickly and cheaply as possible. They are often imported, and because factories are often sub-contracted, it can be very difficult for companies to ensure their are not people coerced into making their clothes, the equivalent of modern slavery.
This is one danger of the demand for fast, cheap clothes.
The clothes are also not well-made. They are cheap, wearing down, ripping or fading quickly after they are purchased. They also go out of style quickly, as the bell sleeves replace the off-the-shoulder tops. This leads to waste, as people get rid of old, worn clothing for the newest hot-item.
There are very few recyclable materials, and often clothes either get thrown away or donated. If they are thrown away, they contribute to garbage dumps and waste crowding out planet. But, if they are donated they often do not even get taken off the shelves at thrift stores.
They are then sent as bulk-relief to poor nations. This takes opportunities away from local entrepreneurs in poor countries trying to sell clothes. But cheaply made clothes are also frequently so bad that even people in developing nations do not want them.
Fast fashion cast-offs are the ultimate waste, unwanted even by people who may only own one shirt.
Thrifting allows me to buy inexpensive clothing without participating in this detrimental cycle. In a world that is increasingly aware of leveraging buying power for the good of humanity and the earth, thrifting provides the perfect opportunity for socially conscious women to buy the clothes they want without feeling guilt about perpetuating a damaging consumerist cycle.