Fast fashion impact on personal finance

Massive advertisement campaigns make us believe in need of low-priced & disposable clothes. Fast fashion presented as must-have but it wasn’t in this way half of the century ago. Tailoring was precise and individually fitted right until Amancio Ortega’s fast fashion idea.

We are going to skip traditional history of fashion and discuss only about fast fashion industry.

Mostly believed that fast updating fashion first appeared in Zara. Young generation of 1960s wanted to look fashionable and trendy but on lower budget. This became possible with manufacture outsourced to developing countries with cheap labor cost & row materials. In case of fast fashion labels it means 15 days from idea to real item available in shop for sale. A few big corporations control this segment: Intidex group, H&M, Forever 21, most of clothing from Aliexpress, Asos.

In this business speed is key factor.

Old traditional fashion meant only 2 seasons (summer &winter). In fast fashion 52 micro-seasons. Sharp increase in amount of seasons increased psychological pressure to constantly follow latest trends. Consumers have to buy as much as possible, as fast as possible to feel trendy. Under influence of PR we justify low-cost items addiction as something normal. Endless supply of cheap clothing created shopping as time pass.

Over purchasing presented as sing of higher income but priced so low that it seems smart to buy it. But if to count how much it actually ends up you’ll be surprised:

  1. You exchange your time in form of money for something that you believe is good for you. How many hours do you need to work to be able to buy that cheap item? If you really value your time you won’t buy fast fashion.
  2. “I have nothing to wear” your common sentiment.
  3. I don’t have enough storage. Need to buy (rent) apartment with walk in closet, buy more shales. Another option is to rent storage unit for possessions which you don’t need.
  4. Itch or allergic reaction on toxic dyes garments.
  5. Feeling of unhappiness and unfulfilling in life. You buy cheap items to get dopamine release and feel high at least for short time. As more you shop, as shorter dopamine release, as more shopping needed.
  6. Clothes, shoes, bags, fashion jewelry fall apart just after a few use or after first wash.
  7. Depressed feeling yourself “out of trend”
  8. Over shopping mindset. Famous saying “never to much of clothes, bags and shoes” makes accumulation as life priority.
  9. You follow social media influencers (Instagram, YouTube and other). Under influence you buy items which influencers paid to tell you to buy.
  10. Predominant fabric in your wardrobe is polyester. If cotton is mostly genetically modified.
  11. You are not aware of environment impact of your trendy pieces.
  12. Low price look like great deal but actually is not.
  13. Garment factory workers get 3 dollars per day. But you get “amazing deal” only 3.99 or even less.
  14. Impulsive buying
  15. Compulsive buying disorder as serious mental health problem.
  16. Quantity over quality.

Cheap items look cheap doesn’t matter how it styled. The seams aren’t straight, loose threads, different fabric tightness, skipped facing/interfacing, no lining where it should be, loosely stitched buttonholes, poorly finished hem. Biggest difference between fast fashion and timeless clothes in details. More details need more time to stitch and adding cost.

We should not forget that demand on fast fashion creates supply. To satisfy demand manufacturing outsourced to developing countries (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, India, China). In poor countries garment workers ready to work entire day for fraction of price just to survive and support family. One of biggest disaster happened in Dhaka (Bangladesh) in 2013 when 8 story building collapsed. Buried 1135 people and injured 2500. This is example how local contractors do everything to cut manufacturing price.

It’s always better to have fewer items but high quality (require less maintaining). Fast fashion business made for profits and not for your sustainable life.

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