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How Instagram has changed the face of fashion

It is no secret that social media influencers produce heavenly posts where the colours of their clothes pop against idyllic clean backgrounds. They modify their image to maximise engagement and ultimately sell the content highlighted within.

This article considers whether Influencers are to blame for the meteoric rise in fast fashion, or are we – the consumers – the ones at fault?

From sewing machine to screen

In the 1950’s only people of means could buy “ready made” clothes. It was the norm for many to spend hours designing, planning and making their own garments. The high street was their Instagram and the sewing machine their screen.

My mum enjoyed creating original garments that no-one else would be seen in. Her clothes were deeply personal to her. Today, with over a billion monthly active ‘Instagrammers’, there’s no such thing.

Influencers are selling us the dream

We gain much of our inspiration from our screens, with Influencers sharing images of their latest clothes. They regularly provide us with refreshing content and feed our desire to conform to current fast-fashion trends.

We are shown incredibly low-priced clothes that tie in seamlessly with the latest direction in fashion. They cleverly sell us the dream and their adoring followers want to mimic each and every outfit.

But take off the rose tinted glasses and consider the detrimental impact the fast fashion ‘dream’ look is having on the planet – and maybe its not so clever to be influenced by the Influencers after all.

Simplicity means speed, affordability means ease

Writing this article genuinely fills me with sadness and guilt. I look at these Influencers every day and think how good it must feel to be gifted hundreds of clothes, snap the look and get paid for it. The money, fame, and privilege is surely tempting. 

Sometimes I feel sadness towards the Influencers. I wonder if they have any idea of the wider implications of what they’re actually persuading their audiences to be part of. Then part of me feels anger at how they are fueling our desire for mass consumption and the dire consequences that will surely follow.

I also feel remorse because I have, on several occasions, unnecessarily purchased items of clothing that were sold to me online, without really thinking. I allowed myself to be influenced.  Simplicity means speed. Affordability means ease. 

Clickable consumption is to blame

It’s amazing to think that my mum still has dresses in her wardrobe, made entirely by her own hands. Everything about them just seems so much more special, more worthy. So much time went into every seam, so much love into every stitch. 

Today, clothes are mass-produced by mindless machines. Factories churn out the latest trends, supplying individuals with low-quality affordable clones. The pill may be hard to swallow… but these are the standards of fashion we see on our Instagram feeds each day.

It’s the simplicity that is the issue however, and the speed at which a mindless purchase and throwaway can be made. One click, one swipe, one discount code and there we have it, a brand new package arriving on our doorstep tomorrow.

From seeing the garment in a photograph to clicking on that link, there is no thought in between. Little to no consideration towards our planet. And, perhaps worst of all, by the time you’ve clicked on that tag and made that purchase, another trend is set and you’re ready to put the garment into the out of date pile and move on to the next. 

But it’s the consumers who click…

Don’t get me wrong, waste has always been a problem. If my mum didn’t choose to keep those dresses, they’d be embodied in a layer of our earth, our countless landfills. But nothing comes close to the crisis we are currently facing.

Its a fact that more than 300 thousand tones of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK alone each year. As the rise in ‘throwaway fashion’ continues, this staggering figure will only increase. More and more greenhouse gases will be released and climate change will occur more rapidly. 

However, we can’t blame the Influencers for all of this. They may be prominent figures behind the rise in fast fashion and perhaps be completely naive to the truth behind the cute outfits, but we are the people who have allowed this to go too far. 

We are the people that click on the tags. We are the people who swipe up on their Instastories. We are the people who feed off discount codes, allowing the cycle to continue. We are building layer upon layer of toxic earth. We are the consumers.

It is up to us to become more conscious. We must open our eyes to what is being sold on our screens. We need to think before we spend. While the Influencers need to take responsibility and educate themselves on the global effects of their ‘dream world’, it is us, the consumers, who must think very carefully before allowing ourselves to be influenced.


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