Do you want to reduce plastic use in fashion whilst keeping up with popular trends? You can sit with us!
"You can't sit with us" is the iconic line from the infamous coming of age film ‘Mean Girls’ which starred ‘The Plastics.’ These queens of coolness were the leading women of the fashion world who set the trends and decided the dos and don’ts. Similar to the Kardashian family of the modern world, who are often referred to as plastic.
Anyway, you might be wondering 'Didn’t the film come out nearly two decades ago? - why is it relevant now?' Well, here is why.
The epic comeback of the 2000s
The plastics are making a comeback and they are doing it #Y2K style!
You might have seen the #Y2K fashion on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, as well as heavily used on unsustainable shopping platforms that have dangerously soared in popularity such as AliExpress and SHIEN. Y2K, simply short for year 2000s is the heart of fashion trends right now, as fashion is on a 20-year cycle.
What does this mean?
This means the new generation, often referred to as Generation Z (ZenZ’s), are head over heels with the late 90s/2000s aesthetics. We are talking about bedazzled logos, big chunky accessories, tiny colourful bags, denim on denim, and of course, hot pink everything! It might sound groovy and glamourous, but what does this mean for our environment?
The gloomy truth behind the plastic glam
Like many of your favourite fashion pieces, a lot of those comeback trends are made from plastic. Whether that's obvious large plastic accessories which are often cheaply made and quickly thrown away to the less obvious microplastics found in fabrics like denim, which heavily pollutes our oceans and harms aquatic life. Therefore, it may be better off to leave double denim back in the '90s.
Here is an article for further reading about why double denim is bad for our environment.
The amount of plastics accumulating in the environment is growing rapidly, yet our understanding of its persistence proves to be limited. The academic research on ‘Degradation Rates of Plastics in the Environment’ shows that globally, nearly 60% of plastic is either landfilled or enter our natural environment where plastic releases toxins and take thousands of years to degrade.
Therefore, when the words plastic pollution springs into mind, many think of beer can holders and disregarded plastic bottles swept at sea, rather than these stylish jewels and low-rise jeans. Maybe, this is where the problem lies.
Online shopping brands such as AliExpress and SHEIN have took the younger generation by storm as their devastatingly low prices cannot be matched by other sustainable brands. The target audience of these online shops are young Gen Z’s desperately keeping up with the latest fashion. But at some point, we need to stop and ask ‘Why is this bedazzled top £3?' and ‘Why is my pearl necklace 99p?’
One of the iconic Y2K trends are the mini shoulder bags that the likes of Regina George and Paris Hilton would rock on the daily. Online shopping spaces like SHEIN, ROMWE, Wish and AliExpress are all notorious for selling these on trend bags for less than a fiver.
Well, how can this be possible or profitable? Let's find out.
Fast fashion < fewer clothes
These brands mass produce cheap clothing modelled on celebrities and current fashion trends. Therefore, the customers whilst purchasing are aware that the quality of clothing is poor. However, these items are so cheap and replaceable that it doesn't break the bank to buy more. This is a repetitive, destructive cycle which produces an unimaginable amount of waste.
Here is another article on the effects fast fashion has on its consumers.
Unsafe working conditions
How do you make a profit from these tiny price tags? Through the exploitation of workers in sweatshops. This includes unsafe working conditions with little to no wage for their hard-working staff.
The exploitation does not stop there. International labour organisation (ILO) estimates that 170 million children in poorer parts of the world are engaged in child labour. This is in order to make textiles and garments to satisfy the demand of consumers in Europe, the US, and beyond.
Plastic fashion is not so pretty after all. So, how can you, as a consumer, help to discourage this?
Disaster averted: Depop saves the day
With almost ten million users, this fashion marketplace platform offers online shopping for the social media generation as it receives Gen Z's tick of approval. It's a place to shop vintage pieces, trendy clothes, and cheap second-hand steals. After all, one person's trash is another person's treasure!
Here are a few popular shops on Depop that thrive in the current Y2K trends:
@412vintage - specialises in '90s and '00s post-vintage apparel
@guccig11 - specialised in men's Y2K style
@emmarogue- selling Y2K looks, prices ranging up to high-end brands
Depop creates the perfect opportunity for businesses, individual sellers, and buyers to tackle throw away culture successfully, helping our environment as there is less waste and less plastic being thrown away to landfills. Depop is the perfect example of staying stylish sustainably - rather fetch if you ask me!
Further related articles you might be interested in:
Article on how GenZ's changing throw-away culture
Interesting article of the rise of the y2k style
Fashion trends we follow from 'Mean Girls'