Is fast fashion out of style?

Student body responds to concern of fast fashion as climate change poses looming threats

Aero Gartner, Reporter

Over the past 40 years, the fashion industry as a whole has taken on faster manufacturing models to produce new, trending styles at a rate the planet has never seen before. A typical production cycle of one to three months can be shortened to as little as one week, which is currently the case for many brands considered as fast fashion.

Some of the most popular fast fashion brands include Shein, ZARA, and Forever 21. Brands like these appeal specifically to teenagers because of their incredibly cheap, trendy clothing. Teens are able to stay on top of every trend they hope to indulge in with minimal spending required. 

“The marketing is directed typically towards our age,” Ellie Schierl ‘23 said. “[Students] don’t have a lot of money but they want to be trendy. They want to fit in, so it’s so easy to fall into the trends.”

Students at LT, being a target demographic for these clothing brands, have a large impact on the environment and how successful fast fashion is in society. Fast fashion is easily accessible, up to date on trends, affordable, and usually more inclusive towards plus-sized buyers in ways that thrifting often isn’t. It feels like a no-brainer to utilize fast fashion as a trendy resource when trying to fit in or stand out on a tight budget.

“With people who have less money, fast fashion is definitely a big contribution to their identity of self and self-expression,” Sammy Brunet ‘24 said.

Fast fashion, despite its budding success over the past 20 years, has developed many controversies surrounding the ethics of their production cycle. People have criticized the waste that fast fashion produces as well as its connection to the ever growing issue of climate change. 

“With fast fashion there is such an overconsumption of waste that is accumulating and just damaging everything,” Brunet said. “You feel like there’s nothing you can do to change it.”

Along with this controversy, people have critiqued the working conditions of those making the garments, citing sweatshop labor as an alleged contributing factor to their ability to turn over new products at such a fast rate. 

“The factories need to make products and the stores keep telling them to make it cheaper so they can sell it for less,” Fendrick Markus ‘25 said. “And so with that there’s been health risks, corners cut, and the conditions have dropped severely.”

While, at large, consumers of fast fashion are not responsible for the actions of the corporations they elect to purchase from, many students urge their peers to shop more sustainably. Thrifting, buying more basics, purchasing from brands that make long lasting garments, and finding your own personal sense of style are all ways to lessen your negative impact on the environment in the long run, Brunet and Schierl said.

“In general, it’s so easy to fall into trends and things like that, but if you do work on creating your own personal style then you don’t have to spend your money on every new trend that comes out,” Schierl said.

With the threat of climate change becoming a growing concern for the student body, it is important that each and every student does whatever they can to lessen the effects that fast fashion has on our environment, Markus said.

“Roughly per person per year we waste about 82 pounds of clothing,” Markus said. “It’s an estimation, but still. If you think about how many of us there are, it’s a scary situation.”

Students are urging not only their peers to watch the ethics behind the purchases that they make, but urging companies to change their policies as well. With an ever growing concern across not only the student body but the world, students have agreed that change across the board needs to happen now. 

“It’s hard not to be pessimistic about it, because all the carbon emissions and everything that comes from mass-producing clothing are really detrimental, and most of the time these practices happen in places that are far away from us,” Schierl said. “If companies are able to take more initiative and change their policies, even if it means they’re gonna lose a bit of money, the littlest changes over time are going to make a huge impact.”