Research: Fast Fashion

Spring 2023 (Research):

Boycotting Fast Fashion

Every few months (seasonally) the 21st Century Debate Institution releases a series of debate topics for students to debate at our online (and eventually in-person) events. For the end-of-year seasonal event (April 29th), the topic asks us to debate about the fast fashion industry. The documents and information contained here are designed to help students prepare for our upcoming event. 

The formal topic language is as follows: Boycotting “Fast Fashion” would be  desirable.
Additional Research Ideas (from ChatGpt): CLICK HERE.

For more information about the upcoming contests, and how you might participate, please use the “events calendar (see above)”.

[Skills Research Topic] MAR-APR 2023: Fast Fashion

The debate topics for the next Seasonal Event will be the same for most grades: 
Boycotting the “Fast Fashion” Industry would be desirable.

Image: How Fast Fashion is Destroying the Planet (New York Times, September 3, 2019) [Link]


What Is Fast Fashion? Fast fashion is the term used to describe clothing designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to take advantage of trends. The collections are often based on styles presented at Fashion Week runway shows or worn by celebrities. Fast fashion allows mainstream consumers to purchase the hot new look or the next big thing at an affordable price. Fast fashion describes low-priced but stylish clothing that moves quickly from design to retail stores to meet trends, with new collections being introduced continuously. Innovations in supply chain management among retailers make fast fashion possible. [PRO] On the downside, fast fashion is also associated with pollution, waste, the promulgation of a “disposable” mentality, low wages, and unsafe workplaces. [CON] Fast fashion’s benefits are affordable prices and instant gratification for consumers, more profits for companies, and the democratization of stylish clothing.
— Fast Fashion Explained and How It Impacts Retail Manufacturing (Investopedia, September 16, 2022)

There is that old saying, usually attributed to Yves Saint Laurent: “Fashion fades, style is eternal.” Literally speaking, that actually may no longer be true, especially when it comes to fast fashion. Fast-fashion brands may not design their clothing to last (and they don’t), but as artifacts of a particularly consumptive era, they might become an important part of the fossil record. More than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetics, derived from fossil fuels, so if and when our clothing ends up in a landfill (about 85 percent of textile waste in the United States goes to landfills or is incinerated), it will not decay.
— How Fast Fashion Is Destroying the Planet (New York Times, September 3, 2019)


The world is paying a high price for cheap clothes,
CNN, May 3, 2020 [3 min]

How Shein’s Low Pricing Is a Huge Cost To Us All
TIME Magazine, January 24, 2023 [4 min]

The true cost of fast fashion,
The Economist, February 27, 2019 [7 min]


Fast Fashion Explained and How It Impacts Retail Manufacturing
Dr. Adam Hayes, Investopedia, September 16, 2022

Here’s What Forever 21’s Bankruptcy Could Mean for the Future of Fast Fashion
TIME Magazine, October 3, 2019 [PDF]

Shein Is the World’s Most Popular Fashion Brand—at a Huge Cost to Us All
TIME Magazine, January 17, 2023 [PDF]

How Fast Fashion Is Destroying the Planet,
Tatiana Schlossberg, New York Times, September 3, 2019 [PDF]


Fast fashion – The shady world of cheap clothing,
DW Documentary, February 11, 2022 [42 min]

Harvard’s Fast-Fashion Crisis

Harvard Crimson, Harvard University, March 9, 2021

The fast fashion cheat sheet: Everything you need to know,
World of Fashion Exchange, June 23, 2022


Bill Eddy, 
714.655.8135 (I prefer text)
When contacting me, please include your name and class information (day/time). Thanks

The fast fashion cheat sheet: Everything you need to know,
World of Fashion Exchange, June 23, 2022

Pros of Fast Fashion       

Affordable: Fast fashion brands work with factories in developing nations where labor costs are low. This decreases the overall cost of production and that’s why they are able to retail their items at a cheaper price. Moreover, it also improves customer satisfaction because shoppers can choose from a wide selection of styles at affordable rates.

Accessible: As the production cost is low, it allows brands to produce clothing in large numbers in a short amount of time. On the other hand, consumers can’t ignore fast fashion as it gives them access to the latest trends in both offline and online stores. So, the collection from fast fashion brands is easily accessible to the consumers.

Cons of Fast Fashion

Environmental Impact: The rising customer demand to stay up to date with the latest trends and the rate at which people want them increases the waste generated from discarded clothing. It is estimated that 1 garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped every second. What’s more, garment production contributes to around 10% of the total carbon emissions, depletes natural water resources and pollutes our rivers and streams. This makes the fashion industry the second most polluted after the oil industry.

Human Rights Violation: Apart from the environmental effects, fast fashion also affects the labor force working in its factories to produce the garments. The 2013 Rana Plaza Accident in Bangladesh is an example how unsafe it is to work in garment factories. Apart from big accidents, some of the common problems faced by laborers are skin disease due to harsh chemicals, lung infection due to poor ventilation, physical and mental trauma due to poor treatment, low wages, and inhumane working hours.

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