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Impact of Fast Fashion on the Youth of Africa

By Destiny Mercado

Today, with technological advancements spanning industries, fashion is one such industry that has been impacted and has become accessible to all. On the surface, this seems to be the cherry on top of the cake. Better affordability, accessibility, better learning for designers, creation using low budgets, and so on. But affordability carries a secret unbeknownst to many. The astounding numbers, the graphs, the results of this fashion industry taking over by storm, showcases a grim situation. The production of inexpensive yet stylish, cheaply produced, and discarded clothing replaced by newer styles is known as fast fashion.

In Africa, the second largest sector after agriculture is the fashion and textile industry. While its market value is expected to rise, the reality that it creates more toxic chemical pollution per item than any other industrial product remains true. The economic impact on fast fashion in Africa is beneficial, as it creates employment opportunities, serves as a destination for apparel manufacturing, and has the upper hand, shipping of goods wise.

Sponsored by e-commerce, the rave for fast fashion grows among the youth of Africa. Teenagers to adults are surrounded by social media, advertising of fast fashion, and accessibility at their fingertips. Even with the prevalence of sustainable, homegrown brands, their market penetration is low as the advantages of fast fashion take over.

However, the ecological part arguably remains. The alarming reality is that fast fashion’s parade through the youth of Africa is affordability built on cheap fabric, ecological distress waiting to unleash, and requires a transformation towards sustainable fashion that supports longevity rather than rapid consumption.


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