Luckily, awareness of these issues is at an all-time high. Customers are demanding that the fashion industry do better to lower its impact on the planet. As a result, many fast-fashion brands have implemented eco-friendly lines.
One of the problems is that while the fabrics may be marginally more sustainable or recycled, the amount of clothing they're making is still the same. What's more, many of these brands don't have total control of their supply chain, particularly the manufacturers and the farmers who make the fabric and sew the garments. This means workers are in potentially hazardous places, making below legal wages.
"Until brands are truly responsible for the workers and environmental impact in the supply chain under the law or by contract, we'll only see small changes around the edges," explains Elizabeth Cline, author of "Overdressed" and "The Conscious Closet" and policy director at Remake.
Another popular strategy among fast-fashion brands are buyback and rental programs, which extend the life cycle of the garments before they end up in a landfill. Unfortunately, there are still downsides.
"On the surface, these initiatives may seem great," says Katrina Caspelich, Remake's director of marketing. "Surely we want fashion brands to become more circular, right? However, this is not necessarily what these brands are actually intent on doing. The issue arises when the same brands hosting these rental and secondhand enterprises use them primarily to create more profit for themselves by retaining their core linear overproduction models rather than altering their business models to reflect actual circularity. True circularity means scaling virgin production and therefore consumption way back and replacing it with services and behaviours that extend the use phase of garments as much as possible."