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Gen Z’s Take On Fast Fashion

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Generation Z: The Most Environmentally-Conscious Generation. Young people today are highly concerned about the future of our planet, which is no surprise given the threatening, and irreversible effects of climate change that are bound to happen unless we take immediate action. One of Gen Z’s biggest passions is the environment and sustainability. This passion translates into almost every aspect of Gen Z's lives–especially when it comes to their shopping habits.

We live in a world that runs on instant gratification. The moment we want something, the internet can provide it to us. Gen Z has never known a world without the internet or its instant gratification. As an incredibly tech-savvy generation, Gen Z–or as some like to refer to as "zoomers"–are revolutionizing industries at large. Just as the nickname implies, Gen Z’s innovative members are prompting industries to “zoom" ahead and evolve at astronomical speeds. Although Gen Z may be the reason behind many industries experiencing rapid technological advances, they are also leaders in slowing down one of the fastest evolving industries out there–fashion.

Over the past ten years, the fashion industry has evolved into one of the most dangerous and environmentally destructive out there. Because of the ever-changing trends in the fashion world, the fashion industry is releasing new designs and styles at an unprecedented rate. The only way garment manufacturers can keep up is by rushing through production, which leads to poor-quality garments, abominable working conditions, and devastating environmental impacts.

This destructive process is called Fast Fashion.

Fast fashion is the term used to define clothing designs that are quickly taken from the catwalk and mass-produced for stores. Replicating high-fashion designs and mass-producing them at low costs can be a highly profitable business model, but it has detrimental impacts on the environment. The fast fashion manufacturing processes result in millions of pounds of textile waste, toxic dye processes, and more environmental consequences. So, even though fast fashion makes shopping for clothes more affordable, it comes at an environmental cost–which is why Gen Z does not support fast fashion.

And so, members of Gen Z around the world are fighting climate change through what they wear. They're doing this through two primary ways of shopping: sustainable fashion and thrifting.

Sustainable fashion consists of well-made, environmentally conscious pieces, and is gaining popularity among the public–especially Gen Z. Being transparent about how you produce your products is the first step to winning over the youth's wallets. Companies that started marketing their products as “sustainable” witnessed an 18% higher return in investment than those who didn’t. However, this does not mean you should greenwash by marketing your products as sustainable when they are not.

Although sustainable fashion seems to be a solution to fast fashion, it comes at a high price. The major problem with sustainable fashion is that it can be expensive, and as a result, not accessible to everyone. The alternative to this is thrifting and buying gently used clothes. Companies like Depop and Mercari have taken advantage of Gen Z's love for everything digital and combined it with sustainable shopping through online virtual thrift stores. Apps like these allow you to list your unwanted clothes and sell them to people. The trend of buying second-hand clothes has recently become incredibly popular among Gen Z, and it may just lead us to end fast fashion.

The Guardian says, “if Generation Z’s habits are adopted by the global population as a whole there could be a shift to consumers with a divided wardrobe.''

Which includes rented items and clothing bought from resale vendors. Slowly, this can become the new normal. Gen Z is paving the way in our fight against fast fashion, and their influence can abolish the toxic habits of the fast fashion industry and shift brands towards a more sustainable future.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt around the world, and if we don’t act soon, Gen Z’s and future generations' survival is still at stake. We cannot let fast fashion be the reason we lose the battle against climate change. Gen Z may send a message to brands through their shopping habits, but at the end of the day, it comes down to businesses themselves to take action.

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