Material Girls

Material Girls

Material Girls

Ainsley Chapman

Americans are notorious for over consuming, and their wardrobes aren’t off limits. In an ever increasingly materialistic world filled with shopaholics and hoarders. All this overspending and consumption is contributing to other issues.

Mary Lynn Damhorst, professor in Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management says that part of the problem is companies who focus on fast fashion. Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by the industry that means the cycle of merchandise in stores is replenished about every two weeks, which is much faster than traditional cycles. Fast fashion is a common cycle in the U.S. “It promotes the idea that we have to have something new every two weeks,” she said. “It tells consumer that you constantly need change in your life.” Examples of fast fashion stores would be Forever 21, H&M and ZARA.

Damhorst says there can a positive side to fast fashion. It promotes creativity in the fashion industry, which is great for designers and merchandisers, because they can get new styles in stores faster. It also gives consumers more choices when shopping. Fast fashion offers an option for consumers who want the latest trends at an affordable price.

“Of course, it brings up the question: do we really need all this?” Danhorst said.

Just because fast fashion and over consumption is wasteful, Damhorst said it is unrealistic to think that Americans would completely quit spending. There could also be negative sides to buying less. If Americans completely quit consuming at the same rate, the economy would be crash. Owning fewer clothes also means more washing, which can mean a bigger impact on the enviornment with water wasting. “Any consumer decision has an impact [on the enviornment],” Damhorst said.

Trying to reduce the the footprint on the envoirnment set by the textile and apparel industry quickly becoming a hot topic. “If more consumers thought about the impact that just one item has,” she said, “that would help.”

Damhorst says that it’s important for consumers to be aware of what they are buying and how it got to them. Consumers may be amazed by the time and labor it takes to get an item of clothing to the stores and into their hands.

So what can consumers do to help reduce the impact their wardrobe has on the envoirnment? Damhorst says, the answer, like many things is “not that simple”. Damhorst says she is always optimistic about the future of the apparel and textile industry. “A balance is what is needed.”