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Is the Halt in the Fast Fashion Industry for the Best?

Ines Faridiala

Are you sad about not having the latest fashion items due to the pandemic this year? Well, there is some good news for you! The fashion industry may take a turn after this crisis and a new era of fashion might be on the corner.

As the world is grappling with the new Coronavirus, its full impact on society is still a matter of discovery. Many industries have been adversely affected by this catastrophe, and the fashion industry is no exception to it. According to the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (INSEE-France’s national statistics bureau), 42.4% of the textile imports in Europe are from China, while others are from South-Asian countries like India and Bangladesh. The shutdown of industries in these countries due to the lockdown has resulted in a production halt for fast fashion companies like H&M and Zara. But is it for the best?

Fast fashion companies have become highly trendy in recent years. As the name suggests, these companies are known to produce their items fast, and at a very cheap price, but, how do they do it? Companies like these set up their manufacturing units in developing economies, which allows them to cut their cost and use flexible labour laws to their advantage. Paying below the minimum wage rate and hiring underage workers are amongst some of their unfair practices, which aren’t just unethical, but also exploitation of human rights. The other worrying factor is the ecological impact of these manufacturing units. In 2015 alone, Textile production created more greenhouse gases than international flights and maritime shipping combined which is just an indication of how harmful the process is. On an average, H&M releases new clothing articles every week and they attract customers by heavy discount offers and setting low prices. People buy more items than they need, and end up wearing them only twice or thrice, the social media game and ‘Outfit Of The Day’ pressure makes them do it more often. But they don’t realise that it takes roughly 10,000 litres of water to create one cotton jacket! To put that in perspective, it is 24 years of drinking water for one person, imagine how many such jackets are thrown away every day and the number of resources being wasted. The governments must come up with stricter guidelines when these companies start their production, which not only pays attention to the working condition and protection of workers but also ensure sustainable and eco-friendly ways of production.

Face masks and DIY clothing

The face mask made its entry into our lives in a very strange way, though it’s a way to protect ourselves, but people want it to be fashionable. When you walk on the street, you notice that people wear masks with different colours, patterns and forms. It has become an essential part of our safety and in-turn our life as well, so people want it to be fashionable. Some brands have already understood that psychology and started releasing their exclusive masks. Popular streetwear brand Off-White released 8 new masks, which cost $94.85 each. Even Disney has launched its own mask line for children. It may sound very cynical to take advantage of the current situation, but the reality is that these masks have already sold out. An Indian bride from the state of Assam even used face mask as an elegant piece of clothing. It seems like this trend will only increase as masks become an important part of our lives.

On the other hand, when people are caught up with zoom meetings and video conferencing, some have found the ideal time to pick up their hobbies or learn new skills. Oceanne, a young French student we interviewed used this time to design clothes for herself; “Quarantine made me realise that I have plenty of time, and I needed to find a new hobby. I always wanted to sew, and I told myself it was the best time to do it”. She added that making clothes is satisfying, “You’re free to choose the pattern, the size, the colour and truly express yourself”. Although she doesn’t want to stop buying clothes from stores, she'll think twice if it's worth buying, or if she can design it in her own way.

Rethink our way of consumption

This pandemic has made us understand our privileges and introspect our life. A lot of us buy new things without even thinking if we really need it, but the times have changed, the catchy jingles on television aren’t that persuasive anymore, people are self reflecting and constantly learning what is important to them. This will also reflect in our ways of consumption. The geopolitical tensions in recent times will force the countries to become self-sufficient and local products will benefit from that. People have already started thinking about the environment and looking for sustainable options. It’ll no longer be the world where we are just buying to satisfy our selfish desires and brag about our new Gucci shoes, but it’ll be a world where people are more woke and empathetic towards others!

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