Fashion bloggers and influencers own a lot of clothes. It’s to be expected. Clothing is an integral part of their job, so to have a lot of it is almost mandatory. However, their industry normalizes owning and buying way too much of it, even when you don’t ‘need’ to for your career. It’s not sustainable, affordable, or realistic for most people, and it should be presented in that way.
Sponsored and Gifted Clothing
It’s these influencers’ job to have a ton of clothing because they make money off of owning and promoting so much of it. The reason they make so much money off of sponsored content is that it works. In fact, 17% of companies spend half of their marketing budget on influencers. That gives you an idea of the return they get each time they send an article of clothing to an influencer and pay them to style it. In a survey, 89% of companies agreed that influencer marketing ROI (return on investment) works better than other channels, like traditional media.
When you open Instagram, you are essentially opening an endless advertisement to scroll through. Would you think a celebrity really uses a product just because you saw them use it in a commercial? Probably not – but that marketing works.
Let’s talk about plastic. Nearly everything you order online comes in plastic these days – unless the company specifically tries to make a point to not use it. From the plastic sleeve the garment is in, to the stickers, and even the non-plastic cardboard boxes and tissues paper that are still waste, clothing comes with so much unwanted trash.
Several companies have also been caught throwing away returns containing perfectly good clothing. Those garments could easily be pressed and repackaged, but that’s just not profitable enough. Instead, piles and piles of brand new garments are tossed into landfills. So the next time you want to order a bunch of clothing online to try on and send back anything you don’t like, think again. Instead, either try to sell or donate the unwanted garments, or just don’t shop from companies with unsustainable practices. But you could also just try to buy less since the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions.
Shipping is also a big environmental issue. Globally, shipping (on actual ships), is responsible for 3-4% of our carbon emissions. Things get even more complicated when you consider the lengths companies and delivery services have to go to for overnight shipping. The instant gratification we get on social media has translated into our expectations for super quick delivery services, which are proving to be unethical and unsustainable.
Instagram is quick, and because of that, it normalizes quick trends. The turnover on what’s cool and what’s not anymore is remarkably fast. One week it’s neon, the next it’s a pastel violet, and on and on. But social media and influencers aren’t the only ones to blame for these speedy trends. Zara puts out 24 collections a year, which means that you can walk into one of their shops every two weeks and be greeted by new styles that are perfectly on-trend.
This feeds into the capitalist mentality that you have to buy things immediately before they sell out, which gives you very little time to think about if you actually want it. And influencers play into this. They are always being new collections from a ton of different brands and promoting them to you. The companies get affordable marketing, the influencers get paid and something new to post, and you get to spend your money on it.
This discussion isn’t meant to belittle or demonize influencers. Fashion is fun and exciting, but it’s certainly not worth the environmental and ethical consequences it’s responsible for. For better or for worse, influencers and bloggers have become trusted voices for millions of followers and consumers eager to take part in new trends and live and dress like their favorite influencers. Next time you’re shown a new garment, brand, or trend on your feed, ask yourself who’s profiting off of your like and potential purchase.
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