The Issue

Many people use social media as a way to get inspiration for outfits, find new clothes, and find a sense of community through dressing up. Alongside this, many people share and purchase new clothing through sites they find online, which are mostly fast fashion sites. With fast fashion, the clothing is so affordable and cute, it would be a shame to not buy more! What a steal right? There’s nothing wrong with that! Unfortunately, many people are unaware of what actually ends up happening with lots of those clothes…

Micro-Trends

Before I discuss this topic further, let me define what micro-trends are. Micro-trends are fashion items or aesthetics that rise in popularity extremely quickly but fall out of fashion even faster. Formerly, trends last for 3 to 5 years, although this turnover period has gotten shorter due to Tiktok. These micro-trends can last for as little as 2 to 3 months, or even only weeks. 

Social Media & Trends

Now, you may be wondering; how is this relevant? I’ll start by discussing how micro trends begin on social media, most notably TikTok. A new clothing item is worn by early adopters of the trend before they suddenly go viral on Tiktok. Once a video or two goes viral, users, especially influencers, want to reap the benefits of the views and increase their popularity and purchase the item to show it off. At this point, the clothing item is considered ‘trendy’ and more people continue to purchase and consume the product.

However, once the item becomes ‘mainstream’ it eventually dies out as people usually don’t think of it as trendy anymore. When clothing items reach this point, they usually get stuffed to the back of the closet or sent to landfills. This cycle then repeats itself every few weeks or months, over and over again with countless new clothing items. This leads to the overconsumption of clothing, fuelled by micro-trends. With the rate that these micro-trends are progressing, there’s way too much waste that is being produced that isn’t being discussed or dealt with efficiently!

Environmental Impacts

A lot of waste is produced during the production of the garments as well as what happens to the clothing item after it is thrown away. For example, toxic chemicals are used to create the fabric for the garments, usually made of synthetic fabrics and dyes that are both harmful for workers and the environment as the chemicals leach into waterways. The chemicals end up negatively affecting humans, wildlife, and surrounding agriculture. In some extreme cases, it can cause water to become deadly and extremely unsafe to use or drink!

When a clothing item is discarded, it’s usually sent to landfills. The garment can stay there for decades and centuries due to the synthetic fabrics and dyes that are used in order to save on costs, making fast fashion more affordable, yet more harmful for the environment at the same time. The product does not decompose quickly and ends up polluting the earth. 

Why This Is Important

Now, what’s the point of me saying all of this? I’m not telling people to not purchase from fast fashion brands anymore, as it may be the only source of affordable clothing they are able to get. Instead, I encourage people to not over consume, and purchase garments that they need. Don’t buy clothing just because you think it is trendy, as most things go out of trend eventually. If you have clothing you can’t wear anymore or dislike, there are many things you can do to it! You may donate it, gift it to someone, or upcycle it (my personal favourite!) While I do not expect for fast-fashion to ever go away, I do believe that as consumers, we have a personal duty to be more mindful of our consumption of products, alongside who and what it affects.

In my next post, I will go into further detail about what happens to the people that work in the factories that produce clothing for these fast-fashion companies.

This article was written by CONNIE DONG