Fast-fashion and feminism: A feeble facade?

Image Credit: Nurina Iman Nizam

The dissemination of feminism globally is unyielding but is it simply a guise for western ideology? Katie Kilcoyne discusses.

Fashion should be an outlet of creativity and expression which exuberates the importance of empowerment to all. The exponential growth of fast fashion in our time is inconceivable. The vast availability of runway inspired pieces at a fraction of the price is inevitably ingrained in today’s society, but at what cost? Threaded through the glamour and opulence are fibres of nefarious acts which expose a glimpse into the iniquitous underbelly of the world of fashion.

The city of Manchester is the epicentre of fast fashion. Major brands such as Missguided, Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing established their offices there to aid in cementing their names in the society of fashion. The documentary series, Inside Missguided, offered a preview into the world of the fashion giant and the work that goes into obtaining their grandeur image. Immediately, they proudly illustrate that the brand is female led with their lustrous aim being one of empowerment. Employees gush over the opportunities which have been offered to them: luxurious holidays, mingling with the rich and famous, and the possibility to further their careers in the world of fashion. The majority of executives within the mogul are under the age of 35. Such policies and concepts drive the importance of feminism; it gives women the opportunities that once only their male counterparts could avail of. Yet it must be questioned, is the significance of feminism really comprehended, or has its ideas just been loosely scattered through the community to blanket a violent storm that could roar through the frameworks of western ideology?

The documentary reiterated the importance of being disruptive and it appears they have fulfilled this aim, but not in the lavish way they wanted. Sweatshops are the backbone of western fashion. These cramped and confined buildings can enclose thousands of people, the majority of whom are women and children. Underpaid and overcrowded, they chug out fashion trends and collections which represents the oppression and imprisonment of women. The show underscored how a trend can be sighted, designed, produced, and sold within three weeks. As a consequence, women camp out in such factories for the majority of the day to satisfy the company’s 7.1 million followers for well below the minimum wage. Their aim to be disruptive is most definitely being met. Yet this word appears to have a number of connotations depending on your place of nationality. The empowerment that the West values only augments the disempowered in a developing country but feminism is truly making major bounds and leaps, right?

The issues surrounding fast fashion have started to come to the attention of many. The rumblings of outrage have commenced as individuals realise that western ideology has placed a blindfold upon the eyes of society fabricating stories of development and success for female rights, but the extent of such winnings are contradictory. The concept of feminism and fast fashion remains on an unsteady axel which is dominated by false ideologies. It is pivotal for society to take charge to ensure the continued strength of the female movement, but equally to take care of the humanitarian issues at hand.