High Schoolers and Fast Fashion

Teenagers walk around Forever 21, looking at the latest trends. Shopping at fast fashion stores is a frequent activity for many. (Photo courtesy of Lyric Chassin)

The outfits high schoolers wear everyday go through a long process in order to reach their hands. From a strand of polyester, to a piece of fabric in a factory in China, to the latest top on a rack at Forever 21–every piece has a story.

The journey every item takes to get into a consumer’s wardrobe affects the people who make it, the environment, and the consumer. You can read more about the journey and negative impacts of fast fashion production here.

On a regular school day, Maggie Salisbury, a junior at Leesville, wears a romper from Aeropostale — a fast fashion brand. “I don’t think I buy anything that’s not from one of those,” Salisbury said when asked about how often she purchases from fast fashion companies. “I always shop there.” 

A survey of high school students on whether or not they shop at fast fashion stores resulted in 89% of students having purchased from a store where the items are made in sweatshops. The leftover 11% has never bought anything from a mainstream fast fashion store. Based on these statistics, it is extremely common for a high school student to get items from these places.

The workers in sweatshops face abuse, underpayment, and a strenuous work schedule. Purchasing from fast fashion companies funds the continuation of the mistreatment. “I don’t really have an excuse for why I still shop there,” said Salisbury. 

Lanie Edelson, a junior at Leesville, has a hard time finding sustainable clothes. “I know it’s really bad for the environment, and the workers have really bad conditions,” Edelson said. The cheap prices and abundance of clothing overpowers the consequences for many high school students when it comes to shopping. 

Another negative result of fast fashion is the pollution of the air and the ocean from the factories. “The Earth is dying, and me not buying a shirt isn’t going to change that,” Salisbury said. The mindset of “It’s just a shirt” is prominent in many teenagers today. It ends up being not just one shirt, but hundreds of thousands of shirts when you combine everyone making those careless purchases. 

The decisions people make are changing everyday when it comes to environmental issues. Companies are working to make their clothing production more ethical. “All of it is really bad, and the companies need to fix it or just stop existing,” said Edelson. 

“[Fast fashion companies] will probably get attacked,” Salisbury said. “Some of them will probably close down and some will stay because places like Urban Outfitters [will be supported] since people think their clothes are more high quality.” 

In the future years, “there will probably be some kind of push for [companies] to reform and I think for a certain amount they will abide by it or at least make it look like they do,” Salisbury said. 


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