This Article was written by Shiza Ronald and Isabella Cabello, Year 13
If you had been a teenager on social media during the summer of 2020, you would have seen the rise of “alt” and “indie” fashion. The two front pieces of dyed hair, the popularity of demonia boots, the fish eye lenses and the sanrio characters plastered on every piece of apparel in sight. Then you might also wonder why these trends seemed to disappear just as fast as they came. This can be accredited to the simple phenomenon of micro trends.
So, what is a micro trend?
A micro trend is, as the name suggests, a trend that quickly rises in popularity and falls even faster. However, this sudden fall in popularity is not by chance - in fact these trends are purposefully designed by the fashion industry to become obsolete so that new trends can emerge, and therefore, the fashion industry profits from this vicious cycle.
But why is the cycle vicious? Before we answer that question, we need to understand and talk about the fast fashion industry. Fast fashion is when inexpensive clothing is produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.
The negative side effects of this industry are disconcerting For example, the fast fashion industry is responsible for 10% of total global emissions - this dries up water sources and pollutes freshwater and ecosystem quality. Synthetic materials are the primary culprits that cause plastic microfibers to enter our oceans. Once the microfibers go into the oceans and once they finally break down, they produce a harmful toxic substance.
There are also social and mental side effects of the fast fashion industry on us all. The first victim of this industry are the workers, who are often found overseas and are exploited so that the businesses can maximise profits. The workers in these sweatshops are not only underpaid, but also are forced to have a high product output while under extremely dangerous working conditions. Essentially, workers in areas of poverty are exploited by big companies so that they can maintain the never ending cycle of microtrends. Additionally, there is the constant mental pressure that consumers consequently experience to constantly keep up with trends and always have the latest fashion - regardless of whether they can afford it or even need the new clothes.
You might be wondering - is there even a solution to this problem?
The easiest thing we can all do is simply buy less! This isn’t to say that you need to completely limit your shopping desires - only to be more conscious of what you’re buying. For example, think of yourself six months from that moment - would you still wear it? If not, put it back on the rack! Also, if you are aware that a certain brand does not have sustainable production methods, try to find a more ethical alternative. An example: good alternatives for SHEIN (which promotes overconsumption, is known to steal designs from smaller, independent brands and is not at all eco-friendly) are CHNGE (a US-based sustainable fashion brand using 100% organic material, with inclusive sizing) and Afends (a Byron Bay based fashion brand leading the way in organic hemp fashion, using renewable energy in its supply chain to reduce its climate impact).
Another great solution for the fast fashion disease is to shop thrift and to donate clothes that you no longer wear. Shopping thrift is a great way to reduce your clothing footprint. And by donating you would be helping to divert tens of thousands of pounds of clothing from landfills.
In conclusion, we are all responsible for taking care of the environment and the earth in our own ways. The less we buy into the fad of fast fashion, the more power we take away from the industries that thrive on exploitation of the poor and of the earth’s resources.
Stay aware and shop responsibly!