Quick question—how much do you love buying clothes?
Whether you’re the fashion-savvy type who goes for the latest trends or the casual type who decides what to wear based on what’s most comfortable, you probably would agree that the faster and easier we can get our clothes, the better.
Fast fashion has changed the game for many of us. Not only are clothes bought and delivered to our doorstep in just a few clicks, they’re often low-cost and trendy, appealing to the needs of both the fashion-savvy and the casual buyer.
It’s unsurprising, then, that the growing middle classes of Southeast Asia have been buying a lot more clothing in the past 15 years. Fast fashion has propelled demand to the point that the six main apparel markets here (Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore) currently have a value of more than USD 50 billion.
But how many of these new clothes last as long as they used to? The lifetime of clothes has quickly shrunk due to their low cost and convenience. To make things worse, the average person today buys 60 percent more clothing than in 2000—but not even 1 percent of clothes thrown away are recycled.
All these actions add up to bigger regional carbon footprints, unregulated water usage, and an appalling amount of waste generated by fast fashion. As fast fashion prompts us to demand more, manufacturers produce more, making the industry’s negative impacts both huge and irreversible.