The wheel of fashion consumerism

Kate Stiens

Fast fashion is the business model of mass producing cheap, unsustainable clothes for little cost. For adolescents in an age of strong peer influences, owning the latest garments can seem life threatening. 

Fast fashion accelerates the fear of missing out, with low self esteem and anxiety increasing the demand for clothing. The fast transition between elementary and high school can lead adolescents to feel loneliness and buy into materialistic objects in order to feel more power over their identity. 

The marketers understand teens’ confusion and use their identity searches for sites, encouraging teens to engage in materialism and create their identities to brands. Possessions are a branch of themselves, and oftentimes, these clothes are seen as who they are or want to be. It is estimated by the American Psychological Association that children see up to 40,000 ads on television alone, and with peer pressure to fit in, it’s hard for them to differentiate between what they actually like and what they are told to like.

Psychologically, brains experience a spike of dopamine when looking at what’s new, and the fast fashion business capitalizes on this, constantly dropping new items for purchase. Look-and-you-buy shopping is being integrated into a lot of social media apps, such as Pinterest and Instagram, allowing users to shop on the app and purchase clothing recommended by influencers and aesthetics.

Many fast fashion sites try to keep up with social media trends. The buyers, adolescents, are over-consuming due to influencer branding. “I feel like the root cause is social media and being influenced by people who you look up to, people online or on Instagram doing collaborations with companies, or wearing certain things that can influence other people to wear those things and do the same thing,” Sinna Gibson, ‘27, said.

As of now, there have been no unique styles between 2020-21, creating more of an opportunity for trends and fast-fashion to endure, and social media has connected fast fashion to spring into the new decade.