Apr 1

Fast Fashion is Fooling Us Year-Round

by Florenne Earle Ledger

If you’ve not already seen our incredibly witty (and very serious) April Fools Day social content, you may not have heard that ✨fast fashion is fooling you ✨ all year round!

We’re not assuming you’re a fast fashion stan, but it never hurts to reiterate all the reasons fast fashion is fooling the masses, still. If there’s someone in your life who needs to know the truth about fast fashion, share this article with them.

We’ve broken down just some of the ways fast fashion has fooled us in the past, so we can all wise up and keep these corporate giants in check.

Remember Who Made Them

Thanks to Ventia La Manna, co-founder of Remember Who Made Them, we’re constantly reminding ourselves who made our clothes because they don’t just materialise (see what we did there?!). Clothing is made by real people who spend time and effort producing garments. That’s why it’s so important not to be impressed by large discounts and low prices. Mass sales and super cheap clothes mean *big* profit margins for the people at the top, meaning the garment workers aren’t paid what they deserve.

Low pay is only the half of it. The Channel 4 Shein documentary revealed that Shein workers are paid per number of items they make, with large quotas to meet. They’re only given their monthly wage if they meet the quota of making around 80 items per day. To do this, workers will often have to work from 8 am all the way to 2/3 am, with some of them even sleeping at work. Each garment earns them 2-3p, and they get a total of £16.50 a day.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, their first month’s pay can be withheld and deducted if they make any mistakes. It really is important to remember who made your clothes when you’re confronted with facts like this. Someone worked a 16-hour shift (with only one day off each month!) so you could have a top that you’re probably only going to wear five times. Don’t be a fool. Shop second-hand and slow fashion.

Gatekeeping Greenwashers

Brands aren’t honest with us. It’s as simple as that. With sustainable fashion becoming more popular, brands are grasping at straws to sound vaguely sustainable and one of the most effective ways to do this is to make promises that we, the consumer, have no way of checking.

Lots of brands will say they’re going to reduce their carbon emissions or the amount of water used to make garments. They rake in the positive responses and then never do anything about it but still manage to market themselves as ethical. Some brands don’t even bother coming up with specifics — their sustainability section literally just reads: ‘we’re making an effort to do more to protect our planet, and we know we have a long way to go.’

Are we supposed to be impressed by that? Knowing that you have a part to play in reducing the damage of climate change is the BARE MINIMUM. Empty promises and lack of action from fast fashion giants haven’t gone unnoticed, which is why the new greenwashing regulations are coming in to put a stop to this madness. We love to see it.

In it For The Money

Another simple fact: unethical materials that take longer to biodegrade are cheaper, making them the best option for profit-driven companies. Alexa, play ‘Money, Money, Money’ by ABBA because that’s deffo the top song on fast fashion CEO’s Spotify 100. It’s disappointing (but not at all surprising) that most fashion brands' primary concern is profit, which is why we’re in this mess in the first place.

If you’re not sure where to buy your clothes amidst the chaos of greenwashing, looking into what items are made from is a step in the right direction. If you see that something has been made from organic materials, like cotton, linen, wool, and hemp – or a high % of recycled fabric, this is a good place to start. Top Tip: Make sure to check what % of the materials used are recycled, as brands love to stick ‘made from recycled materials’ on a label when there’s a very small percentage of recycled materials actually used.

@twinbrett I know it’s a long one but stick with it. Brands are misleading us, and getting away with it. And it’s working. #earthday #consciousfashion #greenwashing #climatechange #activism #learnwithtiktok #twinbrett #fashiontiktok #abcxyz #fypfashion #fyp #fyfashion ♬ Calm LoFi song(882353) - S_R

As Bret highlights in this TikTok, a lot of the claims brands make about high percentages of recycled materials in their clothing only refers to the lining, not the main body of the garment. Watch the whole TikTok to find out more ways we’re being misled.

Taking a Shortcut

It’s not only the materials used that can fool us, it’s the production process too. So do a little research before you make a purchase. We’re not asking you to undertake a research project — it shouldn't be hard to find out about the manufacturing process if the brand cares about sustainability. If there’s no information online, this is usually an indicator that they’ve got something to hide.

As well as cheap materials that don’t decompose, many fast fashion brands use harmful chemicals to dye their fabrics or a ridiculous amount of water to make their garments. This is unsustainable. All companies should be aware of minimising their water usage and using natural chemicals to dye their fabrics — not only for the planet but for consumers’ health.

The production rate itself is a good indicator of how sustainable a brand is. A lot of brands and designers are now producing less clothing, and sustainable brands make fewer clothes to avoid overproduction. Not only does overproduction waste resources when clothes aren’t sold, but it also encourages overconsumption. When fast fashion brands release so many new designs, most people assume they should be buying more clothes to keep up with the seasons. This is not necessary! Wear what you already own.

Releasing hundreds of new garments every season (yes, season) is just one of the ways fast fashion brands manipulate us into buying more. We’re not falling for it again!

Those are the main ways we believe fast fashion brands have us swindled. If we missed something, please enlighten us and get involved in the conversation on our Instagram or Twitter, @whering_.

Something on your mind?

Share your thoughts with Whering community.

If you have an idea for an article around fashion, culture, environment, news, wellness, shopping or DIY, submit a pitch to us!