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Photography by Rio Lecatompessy on Unsplash

This fabric feels like silk between our fingers

but made with half the care and twice the plastic.

A slashed price, yet at a greater cost—

sacrificing safer labor for convenient consumption.

Have we forgotten about the history

of arsenic green dresses?

Companies force us to profess our loyalty

before they’ve earned our trust

and dole out false promises of

clean and made with purpose

adding to our satisfaction upon purchase.

Despite living in an age of excess

we must confess that something is still missing—

why else does a truckload of clothes

end in landfills on other people’s shores

every second, for years to come?

Lost between racks trying to find ourselves

swapping out versions of who we could be 

as delegated by transient trend cycles.

In pursuing garments from past seasons

we may find style to be a creative ambition

for we create identity only through repetition.

Artist’s Statement:

The many caveats of fast fashion couldn’t be thoroughly covered in my piece, but the essential idea is that despite clothing being more amply produced than ever, it’s often lower quality, unethically made, and disposed of quickly. Despite more and more people becoming somewhat aware of the sentiment that “fast fashion is bad,” there are complex reasons behind why we individually don’t do much to stop it. Maybe we aren’t aware of the scale of the problem (some recent statistics here: 10 Concerning Fast Fashion Waste Statistics | Earth.Org), maybe we feel that there aren’t any good alternatives—especially on a limited budget—or maybe we just don’t know how to help. We are constantly pushed, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, to be spending more & acquiring more pieces, without thinking about whether it’ll be a part of our wardrobes for the long term.

One of the main reasons why people are compelled to buy more clothing than they would need or wear is a desire to express themselves in a personal way. Dissatisfaction with our clothes will likely not be solved with overconsumption of fast fashion, but as someone who enjoys experimenting with her style, we certainly don’t have to settle with never changing our wardrobes. Check out some content creators such as @beepwrld and @leenanorms on YouTube who make great videos on how they consume less while having practical and inventive outfits. If you do choose to acquire new items, consider shopping secondhand, shop from small businesses, use resources like Good On You and Fashion Transparency Index 2023 to find brands that make sustainability greater priorities, or check for certifications like Fairtrade International.

Calls to action:

A piece from The Guardian that nicely illustrates how difficult it is to track brand transparency & the correlations between price and ethicality: /the-truth-about-fast-fashion-can-you-tell-how-ethical-your-clothing-is-by-its-price

A quick but comprehensive look at how fast fashion is impacting the environment, and practical actions we can take:

Jisu Yee is a high schooler from New York. Her favorite things to write are poetry & short stories, but she also likes writing the occasional essay. She enjoys tutoring younger students and working on student-led publications at school, though she also secretly wishes to try the improv club. She always wishes she had more time to read.

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