‘The Cult of Fast Fashion’

One of the main desires for young people is to fit in — with the right crowd, at the right places, and, as is being shown is the case with cult-favorite clothing brand Brandy Melville, into the right clothes.

However, a new documentary has shed light on the devastating effect of this brand, and the damage goes well beyond teenage girls. 

What’s happening? 

As reported by Time, “Brandy Hellville & The Cult of Fast Fashion,” an eye-opening HBO investigative documentary released on Max, has revealed the many controversies surrounding the popular fast-fashion brand Brandy Melville.

The report investigates claims from exclusionary and problematic sizing practices — their clothing is all one size, and that size is equivalent to an XS/S in the United States — to reports from staff of racial discrimination and sexual harassment.

Along with outing these horrifying practices, the doc also uses the brand to draw attention to the growing problem of fast fashion and its negative impact on human rights and the environment. 

Why is fast fashion so harmful?

“Fast fashion” describes the business model of clothing companies, like Brandy Melville, Shein, and Forever 21 to name a few, that mass-produce trendy but low-quality clothing at the lowest cost possible. 

While this model allows the fashion-savvy to stay on-trend on a budget and has led to the extreme popularity of brands that employ it, it also means sacrificing quality, which, in turn, means consumers end up discarding the clothes quickly — as do the retailers more hastily themselves when items don’t sell. 

The rapid production of the clothing creates horrible conditions for those manufacturing them, and the rapid disposal leads to horrible consequences for the planet. The documentary argues that the exploitation of Brandy Melville’s store employees parallels the exploitation of those making the clothes. It also brings to the forefront the havoc that textile waste wreaks on the planet and people.

The fashion industry produces 100 billion garments each year. This creates between 2% to 8% of global carbon air pollution and leads to tossed-out clothing being the top source of textile waste in the United States. 

🗣️ Which eco-friendly initiative would make you most likely to buy products from a clean beauty brand?

🔘 Using less plastic packaging 🗑️

🔘 Using more organic ingredients 🌿

🔘 Recycling empty containers 🫙

🔘 I don’t buy clean beauty products 🚫

🗳️ Click your choice to see results and speak your mind

As covered in the documentary and further detailed by The Wrap, clothes thrown out or donated in America are frequently dumped in Ghana. The doc took viewers to the capital city of Accra, where 40% of garments go into the waste stream.

There is no landfill, so the clothes either get burned or end up in the ocean, where they pile up at such outrageously enormous levels that it threatens the safety and health of humans and wildlife. Some items were even found buried nearly 10 feet under the sand.

Chile’s Atacama Desert has also become a dumping ground for discarded fast-fashion items. 

What can we do to help?

Documentaries like this that expose these brands for the damage they cause are extremely important.

Even more important, however, is consumers taking action. We can all break up with fast fashion and take power away from these brands by shopping secondhand, supporting circular brands and eco-friendly initiatives from our favorite companies, and keeping clothes out of landfills by trading in our old goods for store credit.

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