The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
We all do it, we scroll through our For You Page (FYP), and in between all the dancing and videos that are too relatable for comfort, we see it. Someone wearing a dress, a top, a pair of jeans, or shoes that we simply MUST have. We click on the comments to figure out where we can purchase said item, only to find that everyone else was wondering the same thing. In less than a week, everyone will have that top. In less than a month, no one will want to wear that top again. In less than three months, it will be considered “cheugy.” In six months, everyone who purchased the item will have either thrown it out, donated it, or shoved it to the back of their closet, ensuring it will never see the light of day again.
The problem with this is that, more often than not, these items are not sustainable but rather a product of fast fashion. What is fast fashion you may ask. Well it’s inexpensive clothing and accessories produced at the speed of light by retailers who are trying to keep up with the latest trends. In order to keep up with the trends and keep production rates low and products cheap, companies use sweatshops to outsource labor from other countries that exploit women and children. This directly contributes to a multitude of human rights violations and it additionally harms the environment.
While fast fashion has always been an issue and is not exclusive to TikTok, with today’s trends changing more rapidly than ever before, TikTok is further increasing the speed at which trends are created and buried. Between the time you click “confirm payment” on your order and the time the order is delivered to your door, the trend will have either passed, or you will find yourself forced to bring back the “twinning and winning” hashtag at the next party you attend.
Fashion has never been static. It is a means of expression and creativity for most, making it one of the most fluid industries with new trends constantly emerging. The lifecycle of these trends consists of five stages: introduction, rise, peak, decline, and obsolescence – the fashion graveyard. Products in the fashion industry can become fads, trends, or classics, which depends on the willingness of consumers to accept fashion. Trends can last at their peak for one year or up to seven; as I said, it is all dependent on consumer behavior.
So, how is TikTok influencing the rise of fast fashion? Easy, they are glamorizing it. Fashion products make their rise on TikTok with influencers promoting unethical fashion brands such as Shein, Zara, Ali Express, and so on. Companies are smart. They know where and how their target audience will be reached, and they take full advantage of it. While not all products that become popular on TikTok are affordable, once these items are officially seen as popular, other companies immediately outsource production to make cheaper replicates thus contributing to the rate at which trends hit their peak. As I’ve said before, in the world of social media, trends gain popularity fast and lose it even quicker. Most of these micro-trends are bold, colorful, and, most often, quite out of the norm, making their downfall even faster. These statement pieces become “basic,” and once everyone has them, they entirely lose their appeal and thus go on to become a blotch of color in a giant landfill.
There’s a clear appeal to fast fashion – it’s affordable and accessible. And like I said, fashion is a means of expression, it can create a self of identity, and most of all, it’s fun. However, you have to remember that it is possible to buy clothes that show your individuality without contributing to unethical fashion companies and harming the planet. We do not have to break the bank or stop our clothing consumption. But we instead, can slow it down. Trends are fun. I’ll agree with that. But creating your own style and participating in slow fashion – buying from sustainable and ethical fashion brands – will in the long run benefit you more than fast fashion will. Although these garments and accessories may be a little pricier, they are durable. They are the perfect staples to have in your closet as they will never go out of style. Additionally, by having classic and well-made pieces of clothing that were bought with purpose, your style as an individual will be shown but now for a longer period of time. I know we’ve all had parents pass down clothing to us and that we want to do that for our kids. Well, I hate to break it to you but Shein, among other fast fashion companies, won’t make it more than a couple of years. Sooner or later that cheaply made clothing will fall apart at the seams. But by buying from sustainable brands such as Reformation, Everlane, Nudie Jeans, Mud Jeans, and many more, you can rest easy knowing these clothes will still be in good condition if you were to give them to your kids in twenty years. And if that isn’t enough, you can pride yourself on the fact that by buying sustainable clothing you are doing your part in saving the environment and planet.