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Fast Fashion: Quality vs. Quantity - What's Happening to Our Clothes?


Written by Celeste Nieves

Photography by Mark Bluemle

Talent: Helen Reczkowski


We’re losing looks, and the quality of clothing continues to decrease as fast fashion continues to rise. But why? What has changed from fashion now compared to fashion in the 90s or earlier when our consumption of product was not as heightened. Fast fashion has been booming especially with the rise of social media apps such as Tiktok and Instagram and fashion companies such as Shein. Trend cycles or micro trends now only last about three months compared to the 20th and early 21st century in which a trend cycle would last about 20 to 30 years. In 2022 alone Shein had made 24 billion dollars in revenue. Which can be the fault of the rapidness of these trends and the fact that fast fashion brands such as Shein are accessible to the average person. Within the last few years Tiktok has seen many micro trends such as “coconut girl” and the virtual Amazon corset. Since these trends are so rapid the quality in which the clothes have been made has dropped dramatically.



So why is the quality of clothing so bad now? For starters our ways of shopping have changed with online shopping being at the touch of our fingertips compared to the 90s when in stores were the only ways to shop for clothing. “Before the rise of Tiktok and Instagram influencers we looked to models, movies, celebrities, and fashion magazines to set the trends. This group was small, and our access to them was neatly curated”. Everyone can be an influencer now and there are many types of influencers determining what the new “cool '' is. With these influencers' power to tell people what's in trend and what is not, the fashion industry now has to keep up with what is “in” for the month or the season. Most of what the new consumers see is sponsored by a specific brand trying to be the new it brand, a one minute video designed to sell a product which may never be worn by the influencer again. With the rise of aesthetics, those who are able to partake will buy a large amount of clothing just to replace them the next month when another aesthetic appears.



To continue clothing now is made quickly and out of cheap materials which in itself is not only bad for fashion but the environment. Synthetic fibers such polyester, nylon, and acrylic are fabrics heavily used in fashion now which are not only cheap and not meant to last but are horrible for the environment because they are made from plastics. Polyester alone can take up to 200 years to decompose. Clothing now is also produced in large quantities meaning the care that once went into a garment is no longer there. Even the straight stitch which is now the quality standard was considered to be horrible in earlier decades. Not to mention the makers of these garments are not getting paid or they are working in an environment that does not meet the proper standards. With clothes being made cheaply consumers have no choice but to continue to buy or rebuy clothing even if they are not following these micro trends from the internet.



You may be asking what we as consumers should do for better quality clothes and to prevent the environmental impact of fast fashion. First and foremost THRIFT! Buying clothes second hand if possible is the most sustainable way of shopping. Not only does it mean less clothing is going into landfills it also means finding better quality clothing. And even if the clothing is from fast fashion companies you are not buying directly from the seller which in itself creates change. If it is not possible to find an item second hand be mindful of the fabrics in which the garment is made. If buying those synthetic fibers make sure they are being recycled, the tag will say “recycled ....”. Though those are considered plastics, upcycling the materials is a better way of keeping those materials away from landfills. Other options can be upcycling your own clothing or having a clothing swap with your friends!


Written by Celeste Nieves

Photography by Mark Bluemle

Talent: Helen Reczkowski

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