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Generation Z’s Fashion Ambiguity, By Sakeena Gul Niazi

Towards cleaner and sustainable fashion

The appearance of ultra-fast fashion brands with enticing discounts and influencer partnerships on social media has put the climate-conscious millennials and the younger generation in a state of inconsistency. On one hand they have access to the cheap rebated products that are pocket-friendly; on the other hand, the available slow fashion or conscious fashion though sustainable is remarkably expensive.

Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion brands for designs that move promptly from ramp to market and then to the targeted consumers. Unlike traditional, the fast fashion stores and their digital-first business model translates too much lower overheads, allowing them to slash prices and dedicate budgets to targeted marketing campaigns. Of late, fast fashion has also become a synonym to disposable fashion as it delivers designer products to a mass market at relatively lower prices. Youngsters react hastily to offers made by the brands and oftentimes end up purchasing more than need. The stacks of clothes in their closet straightway make the way to the trash after two-three washes. Reasons being, cheap quality, change of trend and also the projected mentality that a single piece of clothing is not to be repeated.

One of the key drawbacks of fast-moving fashion clothing is that they are made of synthetic fibers instead of natural like wool, cotton or silk. Textile fibers like polyester and nylon, being non-biodegradable in nature are difficult to get rid of. Moreover, when polyester clothing is washed, it tends to shed out microplastics that easily enter the water system and leads to water pollution. Greenhouse gases and various pesticides and dyes are also released into the environment by fashion-related operations. The growing demand for quick fashion continuously adds

effluent release from the textile factories, containing both dyes and caustic solutions. It is surprising that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the carbon footprint of the world. Fast fashion has also come under criticism for contributing to poor working conditions in developing countries as well.

The rise of the modern environmental movement, specifically with the publication of the book “Silent Spring” by American biologist Rachel Carson has led to the evolution and development of the term sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion or Eco-Fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. From an environmental perspective, they aim to minimize any undesirable environmental effect of the product’s life cycle and from the socio-economic perspective they strive at improvement of present working conditions for workers on the field, in the factories, transportation chain, and stores, by aligning with good ethics, best practice and international codes of conduct. Sustainable fashion is thus partly about producing clothes, shoes and accessories in environmentally and socio-economically sustainable manners, but also about more sustainable patterns of consumption and use, which necessitate shifts in individual attitudes and behaviour.

Fashion is often branded as the second most polluting industry in the world after the oil and gas sector. All stages of clothing production methods can provoke serious environmental impacts. As the climate crisis is reaching the vestibule of every house around the world, the youngster’s have started pondering about solutions. According to the Forbes magazine, the hashtag “#sustainablefashion” has grown five times in the last three years. Smart brands are moving towards sustainability. The concept of fashion rental store has also made its presence. The donation outlets are becoming popular with the generation stepping up to them more often now.

As we know, the fashion industry is influencer-driven which is through social media. Hence, the role of social media in halting the demand the cheap unsustainable products is very significant. It is vital for the brands to provide purchasers with environmentally favourable products that are affordable. The mentality of “not repeating the clothes” should get rid of. Tailored couture is another option for the future of a greener fashion industry as it can potentially lead to less waste and more jobs improving the economy. Unless from manufactures to the retailers, advertisers to consumers, every stakeholder comes forward to deliver clean sustainable fashion at a fair price the transformation is impossible to deliver.
As it is said

“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere, is paying”

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