Fast fashion has a detrimental impact on not only the environment but also the society in which we exist. The way fast fashion clothing brands have been operating has existed for many years and their processes have only got worse through the use of social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook and also the Covid-19 pandemic which has pushed shoppers to purchase goods online. Read the following article to get an idea of what impact fast fashion is having on our society as a whole.


Each day, 40 million workers endure poor working conditions and earn unfair wages to assemble garments. Garment workers are often forced to work 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. During peak season, they may work until 2 or 3 am to meet the fashion brand’s deadline.

Their basic wages are so low that they cannot refuse overtime – aside from the fact that many would be fired if they refused to work overtime. In some cases, overtime is not even paid at all.

beige needlework on wooden frame in light room
Photo by Teona Swift on


The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. When clothes are produced, untreated toxic waste waters from textiles factories get dumped directly into the rivers, as do fertilisers used to produce cotton Cotton itself requires huge quantities of water to make it. Did you know that up to 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce just 1kg of cotton? This has had huge consequences on some areas such as the Aral Sea in Central Asia. It was once a large salt water lake, now just desert as a result of cotton production.

close up photo of ocean waves crashing on shore
Photo by Marina Zasorina on


Sadly, racism is at the heart of fast fashion. Substantial profits are made through the exploitation of black and asian workers. Of the 74 million textile workers worldwide, 80% are women of colour. Fast fashion relies upon a legacy of colonialism. From the 1500s until the middle of the 20th century, European imperialism was a way to create extractive states and oppress nonwhite people.

The legacies continue to this day. Western consumers demand cheaper clothes and brands want to make larger profit margins. The knock-on injustices and exploitation in fashion’s supply chains are either accepted by consumers or obscured by conscious marketing campaigns peddling female empowerment.

phrase racism is pandemic on signboard
Photo by Brett Sayles on

This post was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.

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