With companies like PrettyLittleThing, NastyGal and Boohoo (all of which are owned by Boohoo) becoming bigger than ever, it’s no wonder that fast fashion is becoming an increasing concern among people who care about the environment. Recently, PrettyLittleThing clocked up a 228% rise in sales to £181.3m. Whilst this may be great for the company, it is massively concerning for those trying to make a change and introduce sustainable fashion.
Whilst fast fashion companies seem to be making the most sales in the fashion industry, there are still brands trying to strive for sustainable fashion. Grace Beverly, founder of sustainable fashion brand ‘T/ALA’, is one of those people. Earlier this year, Grace created her own fitness line as this, along with the environment, is something she is very passionate about. T/ALA’s mission statement tells us ‘we are on a mission to create products that are 100% upcycled, and we are 92% of the way there’. Grace has shown us that creating sustainable clothing is definitely achievable, so hopefully her creativity will influence the main fast fashion retailers today.
Worker exploitation is a major ethical concern created from the rise of fast fashion. An expose by the Financial Times in 2018 discovered workers at factories in Leicester were paid as little as £3.50 an hour, under half the minimum wage for people ages 25 and over. Also, child labour is a particular issue for fashion because a large majority of the supply requires low skilled labour, children are seen as obedient workers who slip under the radar. Children are subjected to long working hours and are often paid below the minimum wage.
Fast fashion brands frequently use social media, especially Instagram, which flaunts the clothing on models who generally have unrealistic body types. This makes the clothing seem more attractive, buyers will hope that the clothing looks the same on them, influencing them to buy it. Some fast fashion brands have been shamed for changing the way clothing looks on their models. For Example, fast fashion retailer Asos failed to edit out clips which had been used to make the clothing fit the model. This caused uproar as people claimed that if the clothes could not even fit the model, how could it fit them?
The House of Commons published a report in 2019 called ‘Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability’. The report carries the idea that ‘the way we make, use and throwaway our clothes is unsustainable’. The government has been recommended to make fast fashion retailers take responsibility for the waste they create and reward companies that take positive action to reduce waste. The report shows hope that the fashion industry will be making positive change within the next couple of years regarding fast fashion, you can access the report here (https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1952/1952.pdf).