Fast fashion: A story in pictures

At The ReFashion Hub, we’re working on a variety of initiatives along with various stakeholders to raise awareness around wastewater stewardship in the world of fashion with a focus on bringing climate-action to the forefront of this industry. To reach more people, we also sought out some young and highly creative voices to share our message.

One such collaboration was with photographer Prarthana Singh to present her unique, poetic take on consumerism and fast fashion. For this series, she elevated everyday items of clothing to look like sculptural pieces through black and white portraits.

 “Careless, conspicuous consumption lies at the very heart of fast fashion. So when The Refashion Hub asked me to make a photo series, I began to think about the strange dichotomy that informs how we approach fast fashion – on the one hand there is the desire to possess clothing that informs our identities in so many ways; yet the same items of clothing, that are supposedly important signifiers of who we are, are made at a great ecological cost and discarded with easy abandon.”

– Prarthna Singh

They’re all around us. Some in unreachable corners and depths of the closet, some right in our faces. A source of joy. And also of distress – because despite having it all and more, they never seem enough.

The eternal struggle of staying trendy. Wear it or dump it? Only been a month since it was bought? Well, the powers that be operate on a different timescale. And you’ve got to keep up.

Bohemian ethos lost on those who put out boho-chic collections every few months. Minimalism rules the Pinterest board but the closet, they say, is a whole different scene.

Colours, shades and styles – one is never enough. That ‘minimum 50% off EOSS’ means it’s a steal and who’d let go of that opportunity? (Mind you the new ones are on their way so, of course, these won’t be in vogue for more than a few weeks).

“Why do you wear the same thing?”

“Do you only have this one outfit?”

“This is the one dress you live in right lol?”

“Didn’t you wear this at last weekend’s brunch too?”

The pressure is real.

Joy. It’s transitory. Fleeting. Because ‘fashion’ is too. Despite the posters extolling the virtues of ‘timelessness’ and ‘eternal beauty’.

Each place and situation in life has its rightful attire and rules. Like the office. A place filled with stress, action, endless cups of coffee (and reminders to hydrate). High pressure work environments but your outfits should show no sign of it. Wrinkles? Nope. Occasional stains from said cups of coffee and hurriedly gobbled desk lunches?  Nope and nope. No-need-to-iron shirts and pants. Innovation, yes! 

Is it really ‘naturally faded and distressed’ if it didn’t fade naturally with age? 

But who has the time for that. Also, why disrupt a well-oiled production cycle?

In a rare moment of body positivity, you get something out of your comfort zone. Come back home to niggling doubts and worries. Now, you don’t like what you see in the mirror. Force yourself to curb your appetite. Get back to that boring diet. “Earn that skirt”, says the not-so-positive-anymore voice in the head.

Bought it. Wore it once. Looked different from the picture online. Disappointment. 

A small consolation – it was just ₹499 (80% off according to the website).

You must have a white shirt. You must also have a black one. Blue, grey and cream are also must. Mustard is in, burgundy and pink too. Olive green too. But honestly, how much in this long list of must-haves really is a must?

Keeping up with fast fashion has its costs.
On our mental health. Our pockets. And the planet.
  • Excessive usage of water. More importantly, excessive wastage of water instead of reuse.
  • Dyes and chemicals for vivid colours or faded looks and innovations like anti-wrinkle fabrics – often let off as effluents into natural water bodies.
  • Microfibres in our clothes, released after every wash.

Like fast food, there’s an addictive comfort derived from fast fashion’s easy affordability and availability. But it’s not all gloom and doom yet. Change is possible, and it starts with awareness. This photo series is a step in that direction.

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