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Planned Obsolescence: It's Not You, It's Them


By: Katie Greiss

Have you ever been in a pinch and bought something last minute for an event from a brand like Zara, H&M, Boohoo, or Forever 21, and after one wash it starts falling apart?

Turns out, fast fashion brands use something called planned obsolescence as a way to get people to buy more and buy often.

According to our friends at Fashion Revolution, planned obsolescence is a business, design, and economic strategy where products are intentionally planned to fall apart or become unfashionable quickly, pushing the consumer to buy more. 

Crazily, it's a common tactic used in fashion, as well as many other industries. Many brands create their clothing to last only ten wears and produce trendy clothes that they know will go out of style quickly. This, of course, is extremely detrimental to the environment as consumers will throw their clothes out as soon as they show signs of wear, and go out to replace them.

There are many ways we, as consumers, can combat this.

1. Most importantly, don't purchase from cheap, big box brands such as the ones mentioned above.

2. Focus on buying fewer but higher quality items. Most brands that sell ethically-produced clothing are considerably more durable than fast fashion brands.

3. Fill your wardrobe with staple items instead of the latest trendy pieces that will be "out" (or... obsolete) in six months.

4. Take care of your clothes - even those pesky washing instructions make a difference

5. Buy secondhand! 

The more consumers stray from fast fashion brands and their business model of producing poorly-made clothing, the more they will begin to realize people want a change. If you are interested in learning more about planned obsolescence, here are two more great articles to read.