The Problem with Fashion Trends

I think like most people, fashion is a form of self expression we all partake in. We find clothing that fits us comfortably, shapes us in ways that boost our confidence and overall is a fun part of being human. You get to dress yourself up however you’d like. How cool is that? Dressing myself has really evolved over the years. Growing up I usually followed the trends that were popular in my school and within my group of friends which I guess is a phase everyone goes through for some reason? Besides the lack of individuality I see in myself in hindsight, I also see a problem with the mentality I had with my clothing. The feeling of not having “enough” clothes to wear when I had a closet FULL of clothing.

Maybe you’ve experienced this for yourself? Feeling as though you need to rotate the clothing you wear so people don’t assume you’re wearing the same outfit! It’s so crazy to reflect on that now.

As much as I love to self express through my clothing, I am perfectly content with throwing a few pants and T-shirts in a backpack and discovering a new country. The stigma behind wearing clothing repeatedly has faded since my high school years. I feel comfortable in just about anything which I attribute to discovering myself more deeply and diving into the environmental movement. Which brings me to the topic of conversation: The Problem with Fashion Trends.

A trend is by definition, “a general direction in which something is developing or changing.” Trends are happening all the time in different spheres – The political sphere, the ecological sphere and definitely the fashion sphere just to name a few. Trends in the fashion world are constantly changing by nature and with that comes the production of new clothes, shoes, etc. Which like my high school self, makes people feel like they need new things and that what they currently have is no longer “in style” or “trendy.”

What’s so bad about clothing trends?

Well when we think about all the new clothing entering the market, and people’s closets, we have to think about the “old” clothing people no longer want to wear. Where does it all go?

I used to think I was doing people a favor and sending my old clothing to donation centers until I discovered the reality.

Less than 20 percent of clothing donations sent to charities are actually resold at those charities. The other 80 percent is sent to textile recycling companies who then determine the next cycle of the garment’s life. Almost half of the donations will be exported and sold in developing countries, while the other half will be recycled into rags and household insulation.

NPR reports, “Charities like Goodwill sell or give away some of the used clothes they get. But a lot of the clothes get sold, packed in bales and sent across the ocean in a container ship. The U.S. exports over a billion pounds of used clothing every year — and much of that winds up in used clothing markets in sub-Saharan Africa.”

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After connecting all of the dots and looking at the statistics, I felt horrible contributing to unnecessary clothing production solely because I’ve been fed the idea that you should keep buying new clothes to keep up with trends.

Key takeaways from my fashion evolution

  1. Clothing does not spoil like a gallon of milk in your fridge (sad to put it in that context but some of us really do treat our clothing this way.)
  2.  You can wear your pieces over and over again and forget the fear of what others think. I suggest incorporating classic colors like black, white and nudes that can be mixed and matched in many ways to diversify your looks.
  3. Shop quality > quantity. A good fabric that may cost you more will last longer than a cheap shirt made by a fast fashion brand like Forever21 or H&M

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