Over the past few years, celebrity collaborations with fast fashion brands have become staple in the fashion market. While seemingly bringing celebrity-favorite designs to the general public at an affordable price, these partnerships encourage unethical clothing consumption, garment worker abuse, and unsafe environmental practices, all while earning millions of dollars in profits. dollars to celebrities and their brand partners.
Fast fashion, while relatively new as a term, has been around in practice for decades. Producing more clothes more frequently has led to them being produced cheaply, profitably and unsustainably. Because celebrities, as well as their fashion, are so prevalent in mainstream media, the mainstream often takes inspiration from their favorites and seeks to emulate their style. Brands are capitalizing on this: Celebrities wear expensive designer clothes, so the demand for cheaper alternatives has increased. The fashion industry‘s goal for decades has been to produce more clothes cheaper and faster, in part to keep up with the latest celebrity fashion trends and the demand for popular alternatives. This practice, arguably, has played a big role in the creation of today’s popular fast fashion brands like Shein, Fashion Nova, Nasty Gal and countless others. Accelerating trend cycles over the decades – and especially over the past five years – means that designs seen on designer catwalks can be replicated and ready to sell in just a week.
Recently, however, celebrities have become more than just inspirations for fast fashion. They have become its promoters.
Cardi B’s collaboration with Fashion Nova in 2018 was one of the most successful partnerships between a brand and a celebrity, gaining a lot of recognition and earning almost a million dollars in the first 24 hours of its launch. Cardi B’s history as a true consumer of the brand before she rose to fame added an air of authenticity. The collection sought to show that Cardi B wouldn’t ride high horsepower and promote expensive clothes to her fans as she identifies with the struggle of wanting to be fashionable on a budget.
By supporting Cardi B in this collaboration, however, consumers have increased the profits of a company that underpays its workers and then pretends to ignore their struggle. Textile workers in factories that produce clothing for Fashion Nova are paid at the tailoring and often earn the equivalent of $ 2 to $ 5 an hour. Fashion Nova does not claim any responsibility for this as they work with many manufacturers and assume that the low prices they get are possible with workers paid minimum wage.
Cara Delevingne’s 2019 collection with Nasty Gal was another example of the now ubiquitous celebrity fast fashion partnership. Delevingne was also ostensibly a consumer of Nasty Gal, carrying the brand’s pieces to music festivals before her collaboration. Yet Nasty Gal’s comfy and fashionable clothing wreaks devastating environmental havoc, from byproducts of factory production seeping into rivers to microfibers from washing fast fashion clothes that pollute the oceans.
Although the brand has pledged to disclose its factory lists by 2021 and map its supply chains by 2025, it does not provide detailed information on its commitment to a supply chain. ethical and sustainable as well as on the methods of application of the standards it claims to respect. have. Nasty Gal has the most sustainable options in its organic cotton denim line and vintage clothing, but doesn’t mention extending sustainability to the rest of its store. Perhaps more importantly, the rapidity of fast fashion in new designs promotes overconsumption and has damaging environmental impacts, often regardless of the materials used. Delevingne’s partnership therefore further amplified these harmful means of production.
Despite these negative effects of fast fashion brand collaborations, they are still present in today’s fashion world. Megan Fox launched her collaboration with Boohoo on October 19, which gave her the creative freedom to express her sense of style at an affordable price.
Quick fashion collaborations can have significant social motivations, like Ashley Graham’s Pretty Little Thing collection, which claims to prioritize inclusivity at its heart. The spring-themed collection focused on body positivity and inclusive size. Making fashionable clothes accessible to more people is certainly valuable. But doing so while working with a fast fashion brand will only exacerbate the negative ethical and environmental impacts of celebrity-inspired consumption.
Celebrity collaborations promoting clothing lines in larger sizes but with more enduring fashion brands, like Reformation or Everlane (who are currently struggling with size inclusivity), can give consumers a choice between fast fashion. and sustainable fashion they didn’t have before – a partnership that may be less profitable for the celebrity, but more beneficial for the consumer and the environment. Yet these seemingly sustainable alternative brands to fast fashion clothing still have issues: any brand that promotes a constant trend cycle cannot be truly sustainable.
H&M, while advertising its Conscious brand focused on the use of sustainable materials, still underpays its employees, and Everlane provides little evidence of its material commitment to sustainable initiatives. There are also affordable alternatives to fast fashion, like second-hand and second-hand clothes, save them from landfills, and incorporate vintage styles into your wardrobe.
Fast fashion celebrity collaborations are a natural next step in the history of the fashion industry and the relentless push for higher profits. Celebrities also hold tremendous power over the general public, which makes them the perfect media marketing tool. As the negative ethical and environmental repercussions of fast fashion permeate the mainstream media and buying clothes for $ 1,000 in Shein becomes less fashionable, celebrities have fewer and fewer excuses to partner up. to brands that exhibit questionable production practices.