The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Without a doubt, influencer culture is contributing to the rise of consumption and making a significant influence on the rise of fast fashion. The ability to buy fashion today much more easily at the touch of a button has also sped up the conveyor belt to the destruction of our planet.
Social media has rapidly become a new and easy way for brands to promote their products. This is delivered in a variety of ways, but the most effective is through the use of influencers. The platform of an influencer appears to revolve around capturing a brand’s clothing or product in the most unique and creative way possible, with many products being sent to them for free to promote. The fast fashion industry has capitalised on the ‘role-model’ effect, in which their followers are pressured to buy the product because they trust the celebrity and want to copy their aesthetic look. We may want our hair to be as bouncy as Molly Mae’s or to look as cool as Olivia Neill in her dress on Instagram, so influencers have a lot of power to sway people’s opinions about buying a product.
Yet the cost of the fast fashion industry has an even bigger cost on the environment contributing to 10% of climate change. Because of the rapid growth in design and production, garments become quickly unfashionable, and many people are trapped in an endless cycle of buying and discarding clothes, (with only 1% of garments recycled) due to social pressures to always be ‘up to date’ like our influencers. An increase in transportation around the country and overseas has gradually led up to the warming of our planet and the extinction of many species. Plastic fibres and toxic dyes are polluting our oceans so it goes without saying the planet is slowly being destroyed. With the average person spending 60% more than in 2000, added pressures put on by social media and influencers are only making it worse by constantly promoting clothing in order to ‘fit in’ with society. It is only going to get worse unless something is done to stop this addictive regime.
More and more fast fashion brands have increased the amount of clothing that is released into their shops or websites, yet the consequence of this is that the quality of clothing has massively decreased and has instead placed a focus on releasing a garment as soon as possible. Stitching on garments unthreads more quickly, they become discoloured more easily and the overall look of the material can be thin and see-through. Despite shopping sustainably may be more expensive, the quality of the product is much more supportive and therefore will be able to remain in your wardrobe much longer. This can be achieved by shopping at vintage or charity shops. As well as this, recycling garments erases production for a new garment and therefore reduces the sheer amount of energy and labour forced into this product.
BUY FROM INDEPENDENT SELLERS
Many fast fashion brands have been made accountable for stealing independent sellers’ ideas and capitalising as a large business to be able to make the product at a smaller cost and therefore sell at a smaller price. As a generation fighting against climate change, we should be paying that little bit more to buy an independent seller’s product where they are made authentically and not constructed in a busy, overcrowded factory.
BE AWARE OF A BRANDS ETHICS
Influencers are improving by promoting sustainable and ethical brands so as followers we should be engaging with products that support helping the environment. However, while more and more brands are becoming environmentally friendly, there is also an increase in greenwashing, which occurs when a brand conveys a false impression about how environmentally friendly their products are. ‘Good On You’ is a non-biased app to see how ethical brands are from factors such as the environment, labour and animal treatment.
This is easier said than achieved but it goes without saying consuming less is going to benefit the planet massively. By finding your own personal style, hence not keeping up with influencers constantly to dress like them. As well as this, a fun way to achieve this is through clothes swapping with your friends where you are able to have a piece of your clothing reused yet simultaneously receive a new piece for your wardrobe!
EDUCATE THOSE ABOUT THE FAST FASHION INDUSTRY
Despite the severity of the clothing industry that has been highlighted over the years, I believe there still remain areas that are not expressed to have a direct effect on the planet. As a generation now so affected by the problems of the climate, we should be all taking on this responsibility to first learn the effects of this industry yet to educate those about this problem and to change the stigma that to be ‘cool’ you have to always be shopping.
It can be difficult not to buy cheap and more easily, but if we all follow at least one of these steps, we will relieve the pressure of always keeping up with influencers, which will greatly benefit the planet.