The Global Impact of “Fast Fashion”

Through many years of different varieties of fashion, one that has made a breakthrough is “fast fashion”. One might ask what fast fashion is and to put it in simple terms, it is trendy, cheap, low-quality clothing material sold in stores. Over time, several fashion companies have tried to come up with ways to attract customers to stores and different methods to improve their business.

Even if fast fashion is efficient, it is still a huge debate among people, arguing if they would rather have quality over price. This huge global issue is causing many people to really question if they should continue to shop at the same places. The store-brand Forever 21 completely went out of business for “fast fashion”. Even though they sold cheap, trendy clothing, they went out of business by filing for bankruptcy from not keeping up with the trends. Many stores like H&M, Zara, and Fashion Nova are doing the same. Along with these same principles being used in similar clothing brand companies, it can cause countless amounts of problems for everyone. With fast fashion, numerous downsides arise. According to EcoWatch, “It is estimated that 70 percent of Asia’s rivers and lakes are contaminated by the 2.5 billion gallons of wastewater produced by that continent’s textile industry.”  This scientific evidence shows that oceans are not just polluted by plastics, but also textile dyes for making jeans and t-shirts. The rising environmental impacts can cause the temperature of the globe to go up and many health concerns for the ocean animals. Microplastics and other items used to make clothes are dumped into the ocean, causing harm to ocean life. 

Another issue that comes up is unfair labor and sweatshops. Although this might sound confusing, shop workers or laborers who work in factories making cheap clothing are treated poorly with no right in taking a paid sick leave or maternity leave. This business is terribly maintained, causing laborers to work for little pay in places like India and Africa. Also, with small wages comes poor safety standards. According to, the website claims that “In 2014, in Bangladesh, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed, killing 1,134 people and injuring about 2,500 more. This shows how atrocious this problem is, resulting in deadly consequences if it remains unaddressed or ignored.

Aside from these problems alone, recently “fast fashion” has taken a huge toll on the Coronavirus pandemic. Could Covid-19 bring a stop to “fast fashion”? Even recently, J Crew and big brands like JCPenny are losing business due to the slowing of business in this crisis. Some are even saying this might be the end of “fast fashion” thanks to this pandemic. Will it ever end? According to “Refinery29”, it says “The parent company of Zara, flagged a 24.1 percent decrease in sales in the first two weeks of March; H&M says it saw a 46 percent drop the same month. Panicked retailers such as C&A, Gap, Primark, and Topshop have scrambled to cancel purchase orders from their overseas suppliers, or refused to pay for products, in order to get ahead of their collapsing bottom lines”. This indicates that companies that are portraying similar items that people like, including Zara and H&M shown here, are soon likely to go out of business due to the lack of creativity and design in each clothing piece.

With these thoughts, we can conclude that “fast fashion” may sound convenient and desirable on the surface, but it has many downsides that follow behind it. Big stores like H&M and Zara etc. are good examples of how “fast fashion” is being displayed. Although most stores are trying to fix this issue, places like H&M are labeling and marking clothes with “H&M Conscious” to show and help customers become aware of what they are purchasing and how it was made with care and consideration by the people who make them and for the environment. One way we can slow down the effects of fast fashion by shopping or donating to clothe donation stores such as Goodwill or other retail stores such as eBay. Without taking care of what this world has to give us and not giving back, we might ultimately harm ourselves in the future. “Fast fashion” is not the whole cause of pollution in our world, but it is a significant contribution to the consumption of people globally. As a united society, we must take action and solve this problem quickly and efficiently. We should stop buying lots of cheap items in large amounts, and buy fewer clothes for more quality than quantity.

Lastly, this is my first published article. I chose to write about fast fashion because as the trends change we forget about the necessities we need as humans and how they can affect the Earth’s natural resources. Until recently, not many people understood how difficult it is and how cruel it is to others when making clothes for consumers to buy. Being a part of change is why I am in the Global Awareness Challenge. You can join me and many others to help stop daily global issues amongst your help.

[By Anika Bokkisam, is Global Awareness Ambassador from Virginia]


6 thoughts on “The Global Impact of “Fast Fashion”

  1. I love how organized and informative this essay is. This is such an important topic that slips many people’s mind because they wouldn’t want to spend so much money on clothes. I think you could have gifted your sources better but other than that this essay was amazing.

  2. This is a great article and a great point to address. I think this is the reason that sustainability doesn’t even cross many people’s minds, because of the stigma that it’s expensive. I actually think the most sustainable consumption of all, the easiest to do and the most accessible by far, is to change our habits. This article has really influenced my mind and now I will try to eliminate my use to fast fashion, try to revamp old clothes that I don’t wear anymore and buy up-cycled items. Thank you for putting all this information together!

  3. This article is really good. I didn’t know what fast fashion was at the beginning, but now I have a better understanding of what it really is. I loved how your article was very informative, and interesting. I just have one suggestion, I don’t know if it’s just me, but I learned a little about fast fashion. I just don’t feel like I learned exactly what it was even though you did write about the topic really well. It’s probably just me, but you could’ve added more detail on what fast fashion really is. Except for that great job!!!

  4. Through reading this informative, well-written, and straightforward article, I was able to improve my understanding of the controversial subject of fast fashion. I liked how you cited significant examples of the major businesses promoting fast fashion, as well as the detrimental effects it implements on the environment. I appreciate how you added insight about the unfair labor and sweatshops, as this issue is often undermined and simply discarded by authorities. Furthermore, I felt as if you did a great job on discussing both sides of the argument, considering fast fashion seems desirable on the surface, however it is not beneficial in our progressive society nowadays, but rather hinders our development. Overall, you did a wonderful job!

  5. Hello Anika,
    What a great article! I had no prior knowledge of what fast fashion was before reading your article. That is proof that this article will help educate others that are unaware of this topic, and will highlight a part of the fashion world some may not be aware exists! This is especially interesting because you mentioned many big name brands that people shop from frequently and may never have known the impact these companies have on the environment and the industry in third world countries. It is also interesting to see how the pandemic has affected these large brands like J. Crew and Nordstrom. Thank you for sharing this and I hope it brings awareness to the topic!

  6. I absolutely loved this article. Whenever I think of the negative sides of “fast fashion” my mind automatically goes to the underpaid Bangladesh workers. I am aware that these workers make clothes for several fast fashion clothes in poor and dangerous conditions. However, I was not aware that another negative effect of fast fashion is that items that are used to make these clothes are just dumped into the ocean, polluting bodies of water. That thought never crossed my mind, so I think that was a great point to include in this article, assuming that many people don’t consider that whenever they think of “fast fashion”.

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