September is almost over and we're heading straight for the most frantic, consumer driven part of the year. Don't get me wrong, I love holiday parties and shopping for gifts for my friends. But when an article entitled The Real Cost of Fast Fashion came across my Facebook newsfeed last week, the timing was perfect.
I tend to be more of a classic luxury shopper, I love luxe materials and classic silhouettes. I'm the type who would rather have two (or let's face it, TEN) fabulous bags than a closet full of average ones. However, when I decide to experiment with a new style I can shy away from high price tags until I know the piece will get some play in my wardrobe (hello, croptops!). It's times like this when H&M, Zara and ASOS start to look appealing.
The real cost of that Zara tee
Sometimes I cave and I almost always regret it. Think about it, have you ever bought something from Zara that you truly love? Probably not.
But what's the harm in buying that $20 tee shirt?
Well, the most obvious effects are pretty close to home. There are two possible scenarios. The item is hideous and purchased because it was "cheap" and never worn. In two years it will be in a Salvation Army pile somewhere. $20 gone! The second scenario is that the piece actually does get some play and surprise, surprise it falls apart in the wash. $20 gone!
Zara has "revolutionized" fast fashion by trimming down their product's life cycle to a mere two weeks. Now, instead of customers visiting Zara shops four times a year, they can expect customers to make seventeen purchases a year.
Yikes. That does not sound like a win for the consumer.
Now, imagine you spend $50 per visit 17 times a year. (A conservative estimate I bet). That means you've spent $850 on clothing that will last 6 months. Maybe.
So there's $850 out the window.
To add insult to injury, these Fast Fashion pieces are generally made of low quality, synthetic, flimsy materials. That are also owned by just about every other mall shopper on the planet. So there goes any semblance of personal style or individuality.
It doesn't stop there
I haven't even touched the more macro-level issues here. A generation of consumers buying basically disposable clothing can have some pretty serious implications. I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, but there's a great article on the social and environmental costs here.
So now that I've bummed everyone out. What's the solution?
Think "fewer, better"
Fast fashion is so appealing because it fulfills our need for instant gratification. I won't pretend that I don't have a few items from the latest Target collab in my closet.
But you know what else feels pretty great?
Saving and waiting to buy something you cherish.
Owning a piece that fits like a glove and makes you look amazing.
Having a small, trim closet filled with unique and personal pieces.
In the words of my Mom "Buy quality. Once". She wears a lot of VAUGHAN by the way. ;)