Consumerism is a phenomenon that has been continuously spreading in the past few years. However, with the disruptions of global supply chains and production from the ongoing pandemic, the fashion industry is facing financial hurdles. Nonetheless, the fashion industry is getting a wake up call about the environmental catastrophes that fast fashion has created, and Covid-19 may serve as a catalyst for the environmental revolution.
As Covid-19 began to escalate, certain social measures were put in place for society such as social distancing and the shut down of businesses to decrease the volume of people leaving their house to spend. This in turn caused consumption to decrease, hindering industries. The fashion industry took a hit with many retailers closing down which forced customers to shop online if they wanted something from a specific retailer. However, because many boutiques and shops were closing, the need for the employees who tended to these businesses shrank, leading to numerous layoffs. Because of the growing unemployment, certain clothing stores are suffering financially because people are unable to afford to buy the same products they normally could with their regular income. Because the majority of the fashion industry relies on mass production and distribution, the termination of supply chain workers not only is detrimental to the employees’ personal lives, but destructive to the industry. With a slowdown in production and weakening relationships with both local and global suppliers, companies are finding it difficult to match the quantities produced in previous years.
While the unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 pandemic include the shutdown of various fashion retailers and cancellation of fashion shows, the conversation surrounding mass production and the devastating impact of fashion on the environment has become louder. Fast fashion has become very popular due to its ability of creating clothing inspired by celebrities or fashion trends in a short amount of time. While it can be great to keep up with trends, because companies want to appease the growing demands from consumers, these clothes are made quickly with cheap materials to drive down the cost for these companies to meet these demands. This is a huge problem because since these clothes are easily disposable due to the cheap plastic-like fibers used to make them, it takes up to 200 years for these clothes to decompose, thus polluting our planet.
As people are starting to become increasingly aware of the negative impacts the fashion industry has had on the environment and how the supply chain workers have been treated and affected during the pandemic, a rise in minimalism and a lack of importance placed on keeping up with trends is occurring as mass production is being viewed negatively. Moreover, because people have been affected by the economic and social repercussions from the pandemic, they are valuing personal relationships and their health over acquiring a new fashion piece. With the pandemic still ongoing, many consumers are realizing that there is no point to buying new clothes if they don’t know what occasions they’ll have to wear those clothes to. The work that is put into creating original pieces using sustainable sourcing is being praised as opposed to the clothes produced by workers in unethical working conditions.
Some tips to start shopping greener are
Research the companies you buy from to learn about any environmental goals/plans the company has or is planning on implementing
Support local fashion businesses that hand make, produce and distribute themselves
Shop at local thrift stores or garment districts, purchase second hand clothing or donate the clothes you want to get rid of to properly recycle your clothing
If it’s not a necessity, don’t buy it!
As consumers, we have the power to dictate which businesses thrive through our spending power. With Covid-19, it is imperative that we make sustainable and ethical decisions to help our planet support us during these difficult times. The fashion industry is innovative and bold, but most importantly it is always changing. Focusing on the important aspects of life such as family, friends, and our health and safety, especially during the pandemic will propel the industry in a positive, green direction.