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OPINION: The Impacts of Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is a growing industry within our current society, pioneering many fashion trends and boosting consumption among our generation. At the same time, fast fashion is also the host of many ethical issues like pollution, exploitation and waste. Naturally, this is cause for concern. However, the outrage towards the unethical nature of fast fashion brands is often targeted at its consumers. I feel that shaming those who consume fashion brands like Shein and Temu is unfair because of how accessible they are to those who have a lower income or a hard time shopping in general.

As someone who is plus-sized and usually struggles to find clothes my size and within my budget, I am guilty of shopping on fast fashion websites for multiple reasons, but I often find myself scrolling in search of clothes that are trendy as opposed to what I can find in the dingy corner of a plus-size section. I can log in, filter through what exactly I'm looking for and come out with a pretty good outfit without breaking the bank. As a college student with books to buy, I am always in search of a good bargain. Most of the time, I am able to find those items within the fast fashion industry. The less I spend on essentials like clothes, the more I have for school supplies and other college-related expenses. Some will bring up the argument that if I just wanted to find cheaper clothing, I could scour through thrift stores and clearance sections instead. Not only am I a proud enjoyer of both thrifting and a good clearance section, but I think it is worth mentioning that neither of those options are exactly ideal for a plus-sized person. On rare occasions, I manage to strike gold at a thrift store and find a funky shirt or a cool jacket in my size. However, that doesn’t happen often, and it is much easier to shop at places that I know will have what I’m looking for.

Another thing I would like to mention is that I am aware of the fact that some of these brands steal designs from creators and sell them as their own at much cheaper prices. While I do acknowledge that this is a growing issue within the fashion community and am in no way defending such behavior, I will say that I enjoy a good dupe from time to time. Being able to partake in fashion trends helps with feeling a little less alienated as a plus-size woman. On another note, some of those who shame fast fashion users are unknowingly consuming it themselves. Brands like Cider and H&M fall under the same fast fashion category, along with bigger brands like Levi’s and Victoria’s Secret. Obviously, these consumers are not at fault for simply not knowing, but this shows a bigger flaw in the miseducation of the fashion industry. The only thing different about these brands is that they are a bit more pricey than the more notorious fast fashion brands.

In no way do I intend to promote fast fashion, but instead, I am speaking on behalf of some of us who consume it. I think it is important to keep in mind that some consumers often find themselves with limited options to begin with. Making one of the more accessible options for clothes shopping a shameful endeavor is another chunk of stress added to shopping. I say all this to clarify that I am aware of what’s wrong with fast fashion and that I know that consumers are what keep stores in business, but I feel that some of our anger is mistargeted towards the user when the industry is at fault.

By Elaina Irving, Contributing Writer

Graphic by Shae-Lynn Henderson, EIC



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