‘Fast Fashion’ refers to clothing and accessories that are designed to reflect current industry trends, yet produced using less expensive materials to ensure a low price tag. For the last two decades, clothing retailers like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 have popularized Fast Fashion among everyday consumers. However, not everyone is a huge fan of the trend.
Many designers, for instance, have complained that Fast Fashion has reduced conceptual originality within the clothing industry in order to produce a higher volume of garments and accessories. Zara, for example, churns out 10,000 new items every year; most boutique designers, by comparison, release between 50 and 100 pieces.
The Fast Fashion trend has also led to environmental concerns. Every year, the clothing industry produces 2 million tons of waste, emits 2.1 million tons of carbon dioxide, and uses 70 million tons of water; these figures have significantly risen in the years since Fast Fashion became a retailing standard. To make matters worse, the quality of these garments is typically so low that most are discarded or donated to charity by the wearer within two years of the original purchase.
Roughly 300 retailers have signed on to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), a collective that aims to reduce wastefulness in the fashion industry. SCAP seeks to produce and sell clothing without producing undesirable environmental effects; another goal of the group is to exclusively limit international business deals and projects to countries that have established strict labor regulations.