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The Fumes of Fashion

Karly Burlock

Mar 22, 2024

The Fumes of Fashion

Being on trend and keeping up with what is “in” is the driving force behind the fashion choices many people make when they wake up in the morning. When planning an outfit, we commonly think of past outfits influencers have worn, the different styles we see on Pinterest and other fashion trends that consistently appear in our feed. It takes a constant effort to keep up with online trends since they are in for a short while before once again being out of style. This quick turnover forces many consumers to regularly buy new pieces for their wardrobe if they want to dress like everyone else around them.
The desire to fit in and wear outfits that are on trend is what drives the cycle of overconsumption. This is when there is a rapid consumption of cheap products that the buyer doesn't truly need, but is influenced to attain by social media. The need to keep up with fast fashion has damaged the consumer culture seen in society, as many people are guilty of purchasing cheap clothing items of poor quality that won't last the test of time. While this is essentially a waste of money, many see it as the only way they could constantly keep up with the fast-changing fashion trends without burning a hole in their pockets. It was recorded that the average American purchased 68 new pieces of clothing in 2019, of those 68 items, only half of them were worn more than 3 times, with the majority of the pieces going to waste.
With an overflow of consumers looking to purchase these products, many companies are now willing to produce a large number of products in hopes of making a large profit, this part of the vicious cycle is called overproduction. Companies work at an incredibly fast pace to produce large volumes of clothing that are on trend, usually made of cheap and unsafe materials. This is the only way they can keep up with production while making a profit. The overproduction of clothes is largely the reason why the fashion industry is noted as one of the most polluting industries. The fast production of clothing results in 100 billion garments being produced each year and 92 million tons ending up in landfills.
This ongoing issue in the fashion industry is typically ignored, as consumers continue buying and companies continue producing. Most have shown no care for the environmental impacts and pollution that this cycle creates. Priorities among consumers lie with keeping up with trends. Meanwhile, the company's motive for producing lies in the possibility of making money.
There has been one saving grace that can possibly bring an end to, or at least reduce, the ongoing cycle we see: apps made for selling second-hand clothing. The emergence of different reseller apps allows people to sell their clothes to others, limiting the amount of clothing purchased, and the amount of unwanted clothing that contributes to landfills. Apps like Depop, Poshmark, and Rent The Runway allow users to post their preloved clothing that they no longer want, and sell it to someone who does, encouraging people to buy desired items second-hand instead of purchasing new ones directly from the companies. Having this middleman in the cycle discourages companies from overproducing because they know many consumers will buy pre-loved items, and the new inventory produced will go to waste, essentially losing these corporations money and resources.
The cycle of overproduction and overconsumption can be extremely harmful to the environment and produce harmful fumes that destroy our environment. Although the fashion industry has neglected to take steps to prevent the pollution it emits, it's important that as consumers, we break free from this cycle by only buying worthwhile pieces for our wardrobe and shopping second-hand.

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