The consumption of fast fashion is moving faster than ever before with trends being pushed in and out of style in a matter of weeks and even days. Dominant fast fashion brands strategically withdraw their products in less than five weeks from the racks, some add new styles multiple times a week resulting in constant visits by their consumers who are able to add new pieces to their wardrobes for controversially-cheap prices. One of the key contributors to the growth in fast fashion is without a doubt the use of social media as we’re constantly both sharing and absorbing new content.

As humans we are very easily influenced by other groups of humans such as friends, celebrities, influencers, acquaintances, models; we are social creatures that want to 'fit in'. In the past, we used to look at trend reports from magazines and get inspiration from fashion shows or from that stylish friend from our group. We then went to the mall on the weekend and thoughtfully analyzed what we were going to buy, as prices were not so ridiculously low when fast fashion wasn’t a thing. Now, people who use socially media are spending an average of three hours a day using these platforms being bombarded daily with fashion content both organic and sponsored. Coupled with the fact that we are now a few clicks away from buying the latest trends for very cheap it’s a no-brainer for many.

Not only are we constantly consuming content, but we are also posting and sharing our own content and this hasn’t helped either. In this society we are many times shamed for repeating outfits and we are encouraged to show variety. Before we were big on social media only a small group of people got to see what we were wearing and probably couldn’t even remember after some time (unless you were being photographed by the paparazzi). Nowadays if we post on social media everyone on our network can see and many times judge our fashion sense, plus that post stays on our profiles forever. Some people even admit to buying clothes for a single Instagram picture.

The dopamine level bringing instant satisfaction from reading the words “order confirmed” makes fast fashion so tempting, but we should probably start looking for ways to feel good that do not come at the expense of the environment. Plus, this instant gratification will not really help us with happiness the long-term anyways…it makes us feel good for like a second. This doesn’t mean we are all ready to become minimalists or to stop shopping altogether. We definitely encourage you to shop from more sustainable clothing brands but even if you are not ready to give-up on fast fashion yet, you can still be more conscious about it. Try not to fall for each new trend or impulse, maybe add the clothes to your shopping cart and come back to it a few days later, that way you make sure you actually like those pieces and you’re not just adding random things to your closet. Also, if you really are into a new trend think of at least three or four different ways of wearing that it before you actually go ahead with your purchase. It feels so much better to buy clothes you will cherish versus clothes you will dispose of or never wear.  

We have noticed more and more influential figures like Kate Middleton and Eva Chen encouraging outfit “recycling”. Some celebrities are re-wearing beautiful old gowns for red carpets that they probably only wore once. People are becoming more conscious and awake. We should be praising people for re-wearing a piece of clothing they love time and time again; we should be proud of repeating outfits. This also gives us a chance to experiment with styling and get those creative juices flowing. If you engage in this new behavior you will feel good about yourself and confident in knowing you are encouraging a reversal of the vicious cycle of fast-fashion. It is a much better and durable feeling than the short-term gratification from an impulse buy.

This article was written in collaboration with Ekam Rai


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