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Physical stores and online stores are producing more and more clothing, which consumers then use for shorter periods of time because the products are of low quality or the next trend is already underway. This is called fast fashion and it is quite difficult not to get involved. Stricter rules are now being drafted in Europe to put an end to this forging culture. How will this affect your (online) shopping behavior?
Shop logs on TikTok
The Chinese webshop Shein is an example of such a fast fashion company, which mainly focuses on trend-sensitive young people. New collections sometimes pop up weekly, prompted by popular consumer search terms in Google. In addition, the company uses a marketing strategy where (micro) influencers via social media channels such as TikTok and Youtube show in so-called shoplogs what they have shopped and what it looks like, and it spreads through the use of hashtags and discount codes.
Where other fast fashion chains have already accelerated the number of new clothes being produced to encourage consumers to shop more often, Shein is an example of an online store that is accelerating this process even more. And it may be a tempting but undesirable development, experts say.
Desire to buy
Fashion editor Cécile Narinx wrote an article about Shein for de Volkskrant. Narinx: “Shein’s marketing is mainly on Instagram and TikTok, online channels. If you’re not there, you may well have completely missed out on the existence of the Shein. “As a fashion journalist, I also think it’s very bad that seven euros for a pair of trousers, or ten euros for a dress, or twenty euros for me for a suit, which is normal. It is not normal.” Marketing is a smart way to respond to young people who want to buy, and popular clothing can be produced within a few days, while other fashion chains take weeks or months.
Liability not with the consumer
And what is the consequence of that? Willa Stoutenbeek is an expert in sustainable fashion and explains that with the low prices you encounter in stores like Shein, it is almost inevitable that someone somewhere in the chain will be the victim: “If you know how much work there is in doing something like that, it’s not possible for so little money. Then there are costs that you do not see. And I’m afraid that the weakest link in the whole chain will have to take its head, and it’s them do it.” In addition to potentially poor working conditions for people who have to make fast fashion clothes, this kind of disposable fashion also causes problems for the earth, because there has been a surplus of clothes, which translates into huge mountains of clothes being dumped in South America, respectively. African countries. As a result, natural areas become polluted or chemical gases are released during combustion. Stoutenbeek can still understand that young people fall for this anyway, because when you are young, you are often primarily focused on what makes you happy in that moment or “what makes you most happy.” like come together. “
According to her, the responsibility should therefore not be placed with the consumer not to participate in this, but with governments that must jointly set stricter rules to combat the disposable clothing culture as it is today.
Frans Timmermans explains plans
And stricter European rules are on the way. EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans announces a new plan to ban disposable clothing at European level. An important part of this is the future ‘digital product passport’. This should give consumers honest information in advance about products they want to buy, including clothing.
In addition, there are requirements that clothing that enters the European market, via physical or online stores, must meet in the areas of recyclability, durability and chemical substances.
The concrete implementation of these plans has yet to take place, but Timmermans is convinced that the plan will move forward with the European member states. This means that disposable fashion that does not live up to the new European requirements can no longer be sold and bought in Europe in the future. Amber spoke with Frans Timmermans in The Hague about this new European action plan, which, among other things, will put an end to fast fashion.
What can you do yourself?
What can you do yourself before that time to fight the excess clothing?
Buy new clothes as little as possible, of course, and wear what you already have for a long time. It also helps to repair if something is broken instead of throwing it away. And if you still want to buy something new? So buy used. Or swap something with a friend.
And do not throw away your old clothes, but pass them on, for example, to a good cause. Wyger Wentholt from the organization Clean Clothes Camagne also explains that it can be useful for consumers to dive into which brands make sense in the area of sustainability. He calls it the GOTS quality label for fair cotton, but if one is aware of how much water it takes to produce cotton clothing, one would also do well to look for other substitute materials instead of cotton.
In addition, Wentholt emphasizes that clothing brands in the information on a website sometimes emphasize that they pay a ‘fair wage’ to the workers who make the clothes in factories, but this is different from a ‘life wage’. For the latter, specific definitions have been developed on the basis of calculations, and if a brand does not refer to a living wage, but refers to it in another way, it is possible that an undefined variant is used.
The organization is also in favor of transparency in the clothing industry, where consumers should be able to easily see honest information about the factory where a piece of clothing is made and the chain it has been through.