Clothing: high fashion, fast fashion and mindful purchasing

Clothes have provided many cultures with “protection, modesty, and ornament” (Ross, 2008) and are still a significant part of our lives. It is important in symbolizing occupations, celebrations, and culture; and there are etiquettes and rules to dressing up. Clothes also represent status, roles, and personality.

Contemporary fashion is built around its consumers, who have been shaped by the drastic evolution of the fashion industry in the past 20 years. The late 1990s demystified and exposed exclusive designs and styles to the average person via the new craze over runways (Bhardwaj & Fairhurst, 2010).
‘Luxury fashion’ and ‘high fashion', is less appealing to the wallets of the majority, although, their expensive nature constitutes superior quality and long-lasting materials. However, high fashion is exclusively characterized as ‘superior art’ (Rocamora, 2015) and embodies novelty, constraining its access within the realms of elitism (Rocamora, 2015), rejecting its need by the average person. Although, the rise of social media and celebrity culture continues to fuel the desire of consumers to stay up to date with the latest styles and conform to celebrities (Park & Yang, 2010) meaning that demand has to be fulfilled in other ways. 

Fast fashion is designed to produce cheap clothes in luxury designs, in a fashion market that is unpredictable and highly impulsive—partly because of fast fashion itself (Chipambwa, 2018.). Despite limited time to make clothes and enormous competition, fast-fashion still aims to make a profit. These time and cost demands have resulted in the number of garments produced annually double since 2000, while the average consumer purchases 60 per cent more (Remy, Speelman & Swartz, 2016). Production and consumption have been difficult on the environment, with an estimate of 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases in making 1 kilogram of fabric (Remy, Speelman, & Swartz, 2016) as according to research on major chain stores, the clothing was manufactured to be worn fewer than 10 times (McNeill & Moore, 2015). 
Furthermore, the speed at which the industry pumps out these clothes results in greater reliability on artificial fibres. The increased rate in the production of cotton, usually aided by large amounts of water, pesticides, and fertilizers that current technologies are unable to sustainably dispose of. This has resulted in almost three-fifths of all clothing being incinerated or thrown away less than a year after they are made (Remy, Speelman, & Swartz, 2016). That is how we secured the cycle of purchasing imitations of high fashion, for a fraction of the price, made with low-quality, disposable material.

Keep the below things in mind when you purchase clothing that is sustainable, strong, and budget-friendly.  

(a)  Where does this item come from? 

Many popular retailers adopt designs seen on the runway within three to five weeks (Bhardwaj & Fairhurst, 2010). If you go onto the Shein website, for example, you’ll see a large selection of the trendiest items- replicas of the latest trends, for a fraction of what it cost to make the original item. To make clothing in such a short period of time, and on such a large scale, cannot be done without the exploitation of workers and of the environment. 

A lot of us also engage in, and contribute to this production of fast fashion unknowingly, as the marketing techniques adopted by corporations very effortlessly pull us in. Nasty Gal, for example, always has some sort of sale going on and advertises their cheap rates continuously. 

You really must sit back and think about where the item is coming from if it is that cheap and available that quickly after its popularity.
(b) How much wear will I get out of this item?

Although runway photos and celebrity outfits seem like the ‘it’ styles, it is important to visualize yourself in the item. Before purchasing it, ask yourself, how often will I wear this? and where will I wear it? Allow yourself to visualise the use you will get out of it. 

Sustainable and conscious purchasing does not have to mean spending hundreds on high or designer fashion. Remember, there are many alternatives such as thrifting and second-hand shopping for you to explore different styles and trends. 

Not only is it cheaper, better for the environment, but also gives you access to many more unique pieces that you’d otherwise not find in fast fashion shopping. 

Facebook Marketplace, Thread-Up and Depop are some of the many sites to visit!
(c) What is the quality of this item?

Natural fibres such as recycled cotton, organic hemp, and organic linen (Rauturier, 2019) will not only age well but also serve as an investment and minimize landfills caused by man-made fibres such as the cheaper polyester.

Cheaply made items will deteriorate after several washes, needing replacing- adding to landfill and increasing your expenditure. 

Not everyone has access to applying such filters when shopping, however. If you have trouble following these suggestions, you can look at practices such as minimalism, second-hand shopping, upcycling and capsule wardrobes as great alternatives in taking the step towards acquiring a valuable, long-lasting, eco, and wallet-friendly wardrobe.

Bhardwaj, V., & Fairhurst, A. (2010). Fast fashion: response to changes in the fashion industry. The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 20(1), 165-169.
Chipambwa, W. (2018). Staying Competitive in the Fast-Fashion Era in a Developing Economy. International Journal of Costume and Fashion, 18(2), 3.
McNeill, L., & Moore, R. (2015). Sustainable fashion consumption and the fast fashion conundrum: fashionable consumers and attitudes to sustainability in clothing choice. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 39(3), 213.
Park, S. Y., & Yang, Y. (2010). The Effect of Celebrity Conformity on the Purchase Intention of Celebrity Sponsorship Brand: The Moderating Effects of Symbolic Consumption and Face-Saving. Journal of Global Fashion Marketing, 1(4), 215.
Rauturier, S. (2019). What are the most sustainable fabrics. Good on You.
Remy, N., Speelman, E., & Swartz, S. (2016).  Style that s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula (pp.2-5). McKinsey & Company.
Rocamora. A. (2015). High Fashion and Pop Fashion: The Symbolic Production of Fashion in Le Monde and The Guardian. Fashion Theory, 5(2), 129-131. ttps:// 

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