Argumentative Essay On Fashion
Fashion consumption has become one efficient way to provide massive amounts of clothes in a lucrative way. However, there is a cost: the ‘blood’ of workers (working conditions, suicides, accidents, etc.)， our unhappiness (bad quality, quickly outdated and desire for unneeded products), and pollution. This is why it is urgent to question this activity in a world with social and environmental challenges.
This essay will first draw up the ecological and social impacts of the fashion world. Regarding the economic aspect, during the past few decades, the fast fashion industry has been growing to its prosperity, producing more clothes quicker, driving consumers to change their “style” at the same pace and buying more. Concerning the activities, this paper understands fashion as a social and economic phenomenon (Jordan P. Yale, 2015). People buy and wear clothes; it involves practices, cultural anchors, and values. Brands and styles have significant meaning in social interactions (Jordan P. Yale, 2015). Here again, fashion has negative impacts, such as triggering insatiable desires for unneeded products and making self-esteem quickly outdated.
The second part introduces slow fashion as an alternative to the fast fashion industry. Slow fashion’s benefits can solve the negative impacts caused by fast fashion. The main motto of slow fashion is “less is more”. This transparent business model emphasizes ethical and environmental concerns by slowing the pace of production, improving workers’ quality of life, and making garments last longer for us. The result is that we would, in the end, shop less frequently, appreciating the emotional attachment that comes from the craftsmanship on each piece of clothing.
Slow fashion should be the new fashion business model in this industry due to the fact that slow fashion will produce less environmental harm than fast fashion; it is undeniable for its benefits on the ecosystem, and working conditions, and produces transparency. (Problem statements)
I-The impacts of the fashion industry:
1) Working conditions:
Fast fashion is the name of the paradigm in the fashion industry, pursuing new, quick changes. It seems to benefit consumers by providing massive options within a short amount of time. However, behind the surface is the sweatshop: an unsafe working environment threatening human lives. Most fast fashion companies produce in developing countries and take advantage of workers and especially child labor with low wages and overloaded working hours. According to Baloch (2022), fashion retailers’ suppliers in Pakistan dismiss hundreds of people without pay. Workers cannot survive without getting paid each month which causes suicide and committing thief crimes. To this day, the working conditions, such as factory accidents, have been little reviewed, and there is not much study. For instance, the collapse of Bangladesh in 2013 has caused at least 1132 people’s lives (Thelwell, 2022).
- Environmental issues:
According to the University of Queensland’s statistics, in 2022, the world will consume about 80 billion new clothes yearly. This is an increase of 400% compared to the last two decades. This increasing consumption leads to significant environmental issues. It has been proved that fast fashion has caused a large amount of pollution on the planet (Shukla, 2022). According to UNEF and Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2019), around 20% of wastewater worldwide comes from fabric dyeing and treatment. The fashion industry is also responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions. Finally, every year a half million tons of disposable plastic microfibers flow into the ocean through domestic washers, equal to 50 billion plastic bottles. Consequently, this water contains the unextracted microfibers circuit into the food chain and contaminates animal habitats (Le, 2022).
3) A waste of resources that does not make us happy:
“This highlights an ethical concern about fashion as an institution working not necessarily for the well-being and self-esteem of consumers but instead perpetuating the constant recreation of these insatiable desires for the system’s own economic well-being” stated Ozdamar Ertekin and Atik (2014).
While the second part gives a sketch of the environmental disaster of fast fashion, the previous quotation states that it is even for nothing. There is no relevant pragmatic justification. Fast fashion appeals to consumers in huge quantities and requests to update the store closet quickly, thus triggering customers to buy clothes without real needs. In the fast fashion industry, there is no consideration for craftsmen as most items are disposable, and clothes no longer need to be mended and altered. Consequently, the current market ends in enormous waste and landfill. Dardis (1974) mentioned the vital existence of the second-hand market for dumped garments and the ones without being worn out. Moreover, he thinks it means financial loss and unnecessary waste of resources unless there is an alternative solution. Good news! there is and this is the topic of the next part.
II- Slow Fashion, an alternative?
1) The slow fashion concept, slow is to produce better and consume less:
Researchers such as Clark (2008) and Fletcher (2010) noted the development of slow fashion as an alternative solution. They define slow fashion as “a more sustainable and ethical approach to fashion, with a more comprehensive emphasis on creating a more sustainable process that includes design planning, production sourcing and consumer education”. Clark’s view on slow fashion is closely related to the slow food movements in Italy in the 1980s against the fast-food lifestyle, slowing the pace and the way of production and consumption.
2) Dimensions that slow Fashion should respect
The definition of slow fashion will likely stay a topic of academic discussions. For the sake of clarity, this text relies on the understanding of Clark (2008), who was the first to coin the concept. From this quote, slow fashion is an excellent alternative to fast fashion, more environmentally and human friendly, respecting different dimensions:
- Using environmentally friendly materials and valuing local resources and economies (Clark, 2008).
Slow fashion incorporates environmental and ethical practices into its designs. The production methods emphasize quality, craftsmanship and experience. (Ozdamar Ertekin and Atik, 2014), which is thought to counter overproduction, as companies focus more on quality than quantity.
Some institutions have integrated these guidelines already. For example, the company “Lora Gene” produces clothes with organic fabric by skilled workers. They finally emphasize the emotional attachment that they bring to their apparel. Here, garments are coloured and sized without standards from the fashion trend but rather convey the meaning of each piece (Rivera, 2022).
- Making long-lasting clothes with local anchors to ensure the lifespan of fabric (Boyer et al., 2021).
Slow fashion highlights the importance of using local resources to boost local businesses. It involves the resources such as the crops to cultivate, spinning, knitting, dying and printing until the completed clothes. This also aims to offer people emotional significance. Therefore, slow fashion is geographically anchored and connected with co-creation processes where customers become co-producers and generate ideas with designers fitting their real needs. Besides, purchasing the slow fashion behavior can be seen as an investment, as most of the items are made with long-lasting fabric and classically designed, allowing them to be worn for many years (Ozdamar Ertekin & Atik, 2014).
- The transparency in the production system.
Transparency refers to bringing production and consumption closer. This is often seen in local corporations, entrepreneurs, and smaller-scale businesses with fewer intermediaries. Customers can directly reach the producers and clearly understand the work done and the production steps. (Cataldi, Dickson, and Grover 2010). To sum up, a transparent system helps to redefine roles in this industry in a win-win situation and establish a partnership relying on trust.
Slow fashion appears more relevant than the current production industry for dressing. It is fostering quality and local/sustainable products, reducing demand with durable design, and an overall process that is defined as more sustainable, transparent and humane. However, some articles have criticisms or reservations. They will be explored in the next chapter with a defense of the concept of slow fashion.ion items we buy end up in landfill within a year” (BBC Earth,2019). Why not just buy less with higher quality? Less is more!
Regarding the fact that slow fashion has fewer options (argument 3), articles state that it also deals with knowledge about companies and fabrics. Therefore, the intention to communicate this topic with a specialized website to make people aware of the different companies and fabrics processes around slow fashion is necessary. The more people are acknowledged, the easier it will be to know and buy slow fashion.
Although slow fashion can be more expensive than fast fashion, it is a more sustainable and ethical approach that has the potential to reduce overproduction, improve quality and last longer. Despite the higher cost, slow fashion is an investment that can be beneficial in the long run due to its durable design and high quality. Additionally, slow fashion can be made more accessible by increasing customer knowledge about companies and fabrics. This can be done through specialized websites, which provide information about different companies and fabrics processes. Furthermore, the government can play a role by enforcing slow-fashion policies and regulations to ensure transparency and consumer protection.
In response to the argument that slow fashion can be used as a brainwashing technique to mislead customers by claiming to use organic materials, it is important to note that there are ways to verify the resources and materials used. This can be done through third-party certification, which assesses and certifies companies according to sustainability standards. Additionally, transparency in the supply chain is essential to ensure that customers are aware of the production process from start to finish. This helps to build trust between customers and companies and increases consumer confidence in the products.
Last but not least, the fact that slow fashion does not yet dominate the leading market and provides fewer options is not something that customers should let discourage them. Slow fashion can still appeal to trend-followers by offering designs that are both timelessly elegant and versatile enough to be worn for a number of years. In addition, because of the high level of craftsmanship that goes into each item, slow fashion enables customers to develop an emotional connection to the products they purchase.
In conclusion, this essay has examined the negative impacts of the fast fashion industry and the benefits that slow fashion can bring. Fast fashion is responsible for a large number of environmental and social issues, such as pollution, poor working conditions, and an unending cycle of consumerism. Slow fashion is an ethical and sustainable alternative, with an emphasis on quality, craftsmanship, and experience. It also connects customers to local resources and economies, making garments last longer and reducing the demand for disposable clothing. Although there are some risks associated with slow fashion, such as higher costs and mistrust of green concepts, these can be addressed through government policy and consumer education. Ultimately, slow fashion is an important step toward a more sustainable fashion industry that honors the environment and the people who make our clothes.
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