Fast fashion has recently become a controversial topic. Upon its inception, it gave birth to many blogs where budget fashionistas could compete with the heavy-weight celebrities and trend-setters. Now, a once Hail Mary has become a slight beacon of shame.
Fast fashion has allowed the budget fashionista to have access to fashionable pieces that may have been out of reach for him or her, but now that the bad labor practices of the fast fashion conglomerate companies are being brought to light, these bargain-hunting fashionistas have got to come to terms with the reality that they are part of something that is bigger than saving a few dollars on a statement piece.
Nonetheless, is it fair to place the blame on the consumeristic attitude that fast fashion companies have created on the budget fashionista? Or do we assign the blame to the whole fashion industry for creating a social class where being trendy and fashionably-dressed leads to social capital. Or do we simply assign the blame where it is due — at the feet of the companies that are violating labor rights?
I spoke to a budget fashionista to understand her thought process when she shops at a fast fashion brand and she said, “I think if I’m looking for a low effort, as in I wouldn’t have to do much research on what type of outfit I want beforehand or what’s in style, I could go to a store like H&M and Zara and typically find something that looks fashionable enough and isn’t very expensive you know? It’s like more for a window shopping type of store for me.”
Is the topic of fast fashion companies violating labor rights simply an easy scapegoat? Are luxury fashion houses also guilty of violating labor laws but possess the social capital to be able to get away with their dirty little secret?
The conversation about fast fashion needs to shift from pointing the blame on fast fashion and the budget fashionista, to examining the wholistic social structure of capitalism that we operate in.