Using statistics to analyze the fashion industry is a useful way to gain insight into the industry and its practices. Here are three stats to consider:
Polyester is the go-to material
Despite its poor environmental footprint, polyester is a popular fabric choice in the apparel industry. Besides being durable, it also provides resistance to fading and shrinking. However, it is a non-biodegradable material.
Polyester is a synthetic material, made from petroleum-derived ethylene glycol. It was invented in 1941 by British chemists. It is a relatively cheap and easy-to-produce material.
It is widely used in the apparel industry, especially for outdoor clothing. It is highly water-polluting and air-polluting. It is often blended with cotton to make more durable and versatile garments.
In addition to being a synthetic fabric, polyester is also one of the most popular human-made fabrics in the world. Its popularity is largely due to its ability to resist wrinkles.
Its durability is why it is often used in the production of sports and activewear. It also makes an excellent material for backpacks. But, its sizing and shape retention are not quite as good as cotton.
Polyester is a relatively inexpensive fabric to produce. However, the manufacturing process creates pollution.
It’s a cost-cutting technique
Basically, fast fashion refers to the mass production of clothes at low cost. During the late 20th century, fast fashion retailers were able to offer consumers quality clothing at a low price. During this time, manufacturers were encouraged to sell their clothes at reduced prices to encourage consumers to purchase them.
The main function of fast fashion is to cut down on manufacturing costs. This is made possible by using inexpensive materials like polyester fabric. The cheaper fabrics enable the industry to manufacture a large volume of affordable clothes.
However, the downsides of fast fashion include the negative environmental impact. In addition to relying on cheap materials, the garments themselves are often manufactured carelessly and poorly. Moreover, many of these garments end up in landfills.
The production of fast fashion also consumes a lot of water. As a result, the industry produces a lot of carbon emissions. In fact, researchers estimate that the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by the year 2050.
It’s pushing the boundaries of cheap labor
Despite its ubiquity, fast fashion has a detrimental effect on the planet and its inhabitants. For one, it accounts for four to eight percent of global carbon emissions. In the US, about 11 million tons of clothing are discarded each year. A recent survey of 90 brands found that 93% did not include a living wage on their supplier list.
Fast fashion also has a negative impact on women. In some countries, 85 to 90 percent of garment workers are women. Female garment workers are more susceptible to physical and verbal abuse from factory supervisors.
The benefits of globalization have also shifted the production of clothes to cheaper regions. Many brands do not go out of their way to visit their suppliers. This leaves the manufacturing process in the hands of low-skilled workers.
The best way to combat this is to use smarter business models, such as circular design, organic and chemical free manufacturing, and a well-trained workforce. As with any industry, a bit of regulation can go a long way.
It’s a gender inequality problem
Despite the sexy stereotypes that accompany ‘fast fashion’, the fashion industry has a gender inequality problem. This means that young women are largely impacted by the industry, and are often pushed into factory jobs. Moreover, they are paid a pittance for their work. The working conditions in garment factories are often unsanitary, and can lead to dehydration and respiratory illnesses.
A feminist approach to the fashion industry would require that garment factories pay their workers a living wage and provide safe and sanitary working conditions. It also requires that there be transparency about the supply chain, and that sexual harassment be avoided.
There is no denying that the fast fashion industry is a profit-driven, exploitative business. Although women make up about 80 percent of the workforce, they are paid a fraction of what male employees are. In addition, most factory workers are women from developing nations. These workers do not receive sick or maternity leave and are not compensated for overtime.
Female workers in the fast fashion industry face serious health hazards, including chemical pollution in the local water. They are also subject to long hours of labor, as well as dangerous working conditions. Many women also have no other jobs available.