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The Concept of Fast Fashion and Elements That Impact It

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It should already be a red flag that there is a well-known term in the fashion/consumer industry called “fast fashion”. Similar to the concepts found in the fast food industry (and literally McDonald’s), fast fashion is there to keep up with the demand of American consumers and their ever changing tastes.

As for efficiency, defined as “the minimization of time as the optimal method for accomplishing a task”, in fast fashion, many of the clothing articles and accessories are being created in large factories overseas where products are quickly churned out by either machines or large staffs of workers (Boundless, 2016). This mechanization of goods production allows companies such as Forever 21, H&M, and Charlotte Russe to be able to keep up with trends and get products on the shelf as quickly as possible; sometimes and literally days after a runway show will feature its new trends for the season.

The second component, calculability or “the quantifiable objectives of fast-food chains, seeing quantity as quality” can also apply to the fast fashion industry (Boundless, 2016). Similar to the point I made before in reference to the last component, the fast fashion industry is all about churning out goods in mass quantities. They do not care if the machines they use make the stitching on shirts and dresses produce weak and short lasting because the consumer buying these sorts of goods is more concerned with their immediate needs. For the industry, it is more important that they make as much as possible so more consumers can buy more product. I’m sure they also make poor quality clothing too so consumers come back to just buy a replacement a month later.

The third component, predictability, seen through a company or industry being able to provide “the same service and the same product every time they interact” can also apply to fast fashion (Boundless, 2016). Yes, for the most part, the exact clothing piece is not going to be the same style and design each time, which is expected in the fast fashion industry, but consumers know going into these stores exactly what they are going to get. They know that they are buying cheap, fashionable/trendy clothing, that is most likely not going to last a couple washes in the washing machine. In a more literal comparison, you could also argue that many of these fast fashion stores are also known for their basics (i.e. in women’s clothing, solid colored, polyester tank tops, t shirts, jeans). Consumers depend on these brands for carrying wardrobe staples time and time again. Every now and then, a consumer may get lucky and may purchase a well-made piece, but ultimately, they have a set expectation for the worst quality of the product they could be buying.

Lastly, for the last component, control, or “employees become standardized and replaced by non-human technologies” (Boundless, 2016). This component varies from brand to brand depending on how they chose to manufacture their goods, but it can be strongly agreed upon that most of the fast fashion clothing articles or even the textiles they are created from are made by machines and rarely by humans and even more rarely within the United States. Companies will easily outsource their manufacturing to countries that can provide cheap (and even inhumane and unethical) labor. Stepping away from the manufacturing side of fast fashion, you could also mention that fast fashion companies are starting to “control” the customer service sides of things. Automated responses and systems are used to deal with the large quantities of consumers flocking in with questions to the company as well I am sure.

The definition of irrationality of rationality, or “the fifth aspect of McDonalization”, being “they deny the basic humanity… of the people who work within or are served by them” completely sums up the sad reality of the fast fashion industry as well (Boundless, 2016). The fast fashion industry has taken away all artistry associated with the beautiful world of garments and fashion and design that can be associated with Haute Couture and even high fashion. It strips away the creativity and creates a consumer monster machine. It has created an industry built on the dehumanization and unfair treatment of laborers, “low quality work”, and awful working conditions. It is completely an all for profit business with no one’s best interests at hand except for the top tier of the company profiting from it.

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