Fast fashion has been a concern for environmental safety, labor ethicality and sustainability for years now. The term is used to describe "cheaply produced and priced garments that copy the latest catwalk styles and get pumped quickly through stores to maximize on current trends". More recently, with the sustainable green movement picking up, more people from the general public are understanding the scope of the damage done by the fast fashion industry and are switching to secondhand shopping (known as "thrifting") or shopping at sustainable brands such as Weekday, Patagonia & Stella McCartney. These are just the big names in the sustainable fashion industry, however, every day new, young designers are creating eco-friendly and sustainable brands.
Fast fashion is known for its mass production, usually having up to 52 micro collections per year rather than the typical 4 season collections luxury brands have. Hence, highlighting the overproducing nature of the industry, which has lead to both clothing production and consumption doubling over the past twenty years, yet, consumers now keep their clothes half the duration they usually would. This leads to fast fashion production making up 10% of total global carbon emissions and 85% of textiles going to dumps each year. Furthermore, the industry is the second largest user of water, requiring 2000 gallons of water just to produce a pair of jeans. Textile dyeing is also classified as the world's second-largest polluter of water since water leftover from the dying process is usually dumped back into streams or rivers. These are just a few examples of the many other detrimental side effects of the fast fashion industry on our environment.
Another crucial point is the exploitation of labor that happens within the industry, making it highly unethical and lacking transparency. Fast fashion brands like Fashion Nova, Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, and Forever 21 all scored less than 10% on the Fashion Transparency Index in 2020. Fast fashion brands usually locate their factories in third-world countries with cheap labor and little to no legislative procedures regarding worker pay and environment. The European Parliament went as far as to describe current working conditions in Asia as "slave labor". A few examples from countries that host these fast fashion production sites and their minimum wage include India with a minimum wage of 51 euros but a needed living wage of 195 euros and Cambodia with a minimum wage of 72 euros but a needed living wage of 285 euros. These fast fashion brands capitalize on the severely low wages, and at times could go lower due to a lack of government inspection, to produce trendy clothes at a low price for the consumer all over the world to wear.
In the case of Egypt, we encourage you to try to limit your purchasing from fast fashion brands all over the country such as H&M, Zara & Bershka, and try to shop local or check out the rising market of second-hand stores. Even if you have to shop from the fast fashion stores, we encourage you to shop smarter, rather than shop trends. This means to purchase items that you know will become staples in your wardrobe and will have a longer shelf life in your closet, instead of shopping trendy pieces that you will wear for one season and then never pick up again. Check out our Green Guide below for more tips on how to shop sustainably!