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Fast Fashion: The Industry We Feed To Be Fed By

A brief history of the patterns of consumption we fail to recognize

Over the past century it has become more difficult to understand the lifestyle alternatives to a consumer-based society in the peak of industrial production. Amidst the foggy foresight of our economic state comes the unacknowledged demand for an industry that is feeding our addiction to consumption and fed by our demand to have products to consume.

We exist in a world where the philosophy of modern-day living is to strive towards materialist consumption through the time and money needed to do so. In this article, we will focus on our walk of survival through the fashion industry as a murky path leading directly to destruction.

As of 2023, the fashion industry is valued at $1.7 trillion; $106 billion of that is the value of the fast fashion industry. Fast Fashion is the unethical production of goods produced by mass market retailers. H&M, Forever 21, Shein, Primark, Rip Curl, Fashion Nova, Urban Outfitters, Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing are only some of the fast fashion companies out there. These retailers are producing very inexpensive clothing and goods in order to satisfy the excessive consumer demands.

During the early 20th century, when the industrial revolution began in America, advertising took on an approach to tailor the focus of men and women from the growth of the home to the spending of a wage. When culture shifted to earning a wage, the mass people had more money to spend on the basics of a home; things that one would have been able to provide for themselves in the past were now being bought. Once this concept of a desire to spend was present, the minds of advertising kept “the masses dissatisfied with their mode of life… Satisfied customers are not as profitable as dissatisfied ones,” (Roy Dickenson, Freshen Up Your Product, 1930). Consumerism philosophy evolved from the push to purchase in desire to satisfy. This explains the extremities of modern-day production and consumption which is especially present in the fast fashion industry. 

Even farther back, in the 19th century, during the original development of the fashion industry, the “fashion calendar” consisted of two seasons, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. Designers would create two main collections to satisfy consumer trend desires each year. The growth of fashion over the past two centuries has expanded the industry to push new styles and trends each week developing into 52 micro-seasons a year. While designers remain exhausted, the trends become less quality in creativity and production. 

The current fogginess of our consumption pattern lies in the clouds of a forgott

en history. The excessive waste in relation to the fashion industry began with a time of definitive social status, desire, greed, and a mindset without perspective, bringing the concept of clothing and goods from a necessity to a conscious and global destruction. With the ignorance of why we want to consume, why we collect things of inefficient material, and why there is an insatiable desire to fill our time, minds, and spaces with clutter results in a continuous downward spiral to manifest enough products that we find fulfillment in consuming. 

Over the course of our history, we have spoon-fed consumerism, growing it into one of the only recognizable ways of economic survival to where it now leaves us elderly and dying in a pile of unusable material at the edge of the world. The urgency for clarity of our failing efforts to survive upon consumerism is nearing as we take off the glasses that project the image of flight on the screen in front of a falling plane.

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