Fast fashion and fighting fads


Alex Kendall

Illustration by

Fiona Stevens, Contributing Writer

Singer Olivia Rodrigo’s fashion sense has many labels: grungy, early 2000s and disco-chic. Every red carpet or paparazzi look has a carefully crafted aesthetic for the 19-year-old three-time Grammy winner.

The fashion credit goes to Rodrigo and her stylist duo, Chloe and Chenelle Delgadillo, who pair up looks from the iconic Vivienne Westwood with platform Dr. Martens. But with such gorgeous couture comes a price tag. In turn, fans of the actress’ dresses, shoes and bedazzled butterfly clips are left wondering how they can emulate their idol best.

The fashion industry works in a trickle-down formation. Designers showcase their works on the global stage of fashion week and the best of the pack are selected by stylists and celebrities to flaunt their work on an upcoming red carpet.

With these premieres and the clamor to wear such glamour, department stores like H&M begin to introduce the trending styles into their catalog. Even simple things such as a color palette begin to start to take over the racks. Shortly after the launch of Rodrigo’s “SOUR” tour, the pastel purple, sage green and sky blue of the album cover began to appear on a series of plaid skirts and lacy baby tees, all priced at an affordable $15.

But fashion is not a stagnant entity. It’s an innovative, creative craft and with the rise of social media, what’s trendy is out within two weeks. So how does the consumer pay affordable prices on clothes that will sit in a closet for months when what was once hot is now not?

The term fast fashion has been integrating itself into the media cycles for the past year as consumers have been turning to the monstrosity that is online shopping. Companies like SHEIN or Fashion Nova offer rock-bottom prices and sales that advertise on-trend clothes that arrive at your house within a week. When you can strut the latest styles, protect your wallet and be caught up with the trends, what’s the problem?

The ugly side of the fashion industry- the exploitation of overseas labor, adding to our globe’s overall waste and the coercion of the unwitting consumer is what fast fashion lives by. The facts are difficult to ignore with nearly 170 child laborers contracted to help create 92 million tons of clothes that are tossed away yearly. With changing trend cycles, retailers like SHEIN seize the opportunity to promote the latest and greatest with the help of social media influencers who are looking for the payout. The goal is to turn a profit and a profit alone, without consequence. What also gets lost is the original appreciation and intention behind the art of fashion.

It’s always been a creative expression of identity; what you wear is your first introduction to who you are as a person. Rodrigo’s looks are crafted to emphasize her journey from Disney actress to smash-hit pop star and constantly reinvent her image. So, are you into athleisure, emphasizing comfort in between workouts? Do you accessorize, mix metals or have a shoe collection? Are you a trendsetter or a seeker? Following fashion trends that are over in a quick minute is lackluster and offers nothing to your presentation of self. I urge everyone to take a good look at their closets and ask themselves: Who am I really?