The Hidden Costs Behind Cheap Clothing: Addressing Fast Fashion’s Environmental and Humanitarian Impact
Alexandra Bernard | 25 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 541 (2023).
The increasing speed at which social media trends come and go has caused fashion trends to accelerate in response to consumers’ ever-changing demands. To keep up with the latest fads, fast fashion companies design their clothing only to withstand a couple of uses before the item is no longer in good condition. The manufacture and discard of cheaply made clothing creates a variety of environmental issues. Brands conceal the treatment and compensation of their workers throughout the supply chain; the available information suggests that garment workers are mistreated. Finally, the disposal of these clothing items creates tension between the United States and the countries that ultimately assume its textile waste. The United States has done little to address these issues and currently has no legislation addressing the social and environmental decisions of the fashion industry, despite the industry’s social and environmental costs. This Note suggests that the United States enact a federal scheme to regulate the fast fashion industry by drawing on the European Union’s Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles and Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, California’s Garment Worker Protection Act, and New York’s proposed Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act.