There's a serious overconsumption problem in fashion these days. Cheap, so-called "fast fashion" is pushing people to buy more clothes, a good percentage of which is never even worn. It's all about the constant lust for something new which, as we all know, is never satisfied.
When there's a substantial cost to an item, we pause and ask ourselves questions like "Will I actually wear this?", "Is it comfortable?", "Will it last?". This is rarely the case when a t-shirt costs little more than a cup of coffee.
Obviously, there are reasons these items are so cheap, not many of them good:
As UNICEF reported on child labour, recruiters convince parents in impoverished rural areas to send their daughters to apparel manufacturing jobs with promises of a well-paid job, comfortable accommodation, three nutritious meals a day and opportunities for training and school, as well as a lump sum payment at the end of a defined period. In reality, these children are working in appalling conditions that amount to what has been called modern day slavery.
There is hope though, from this same article:
If Google searches or Marie Kondo’s best seller on decluterring is any indication, interest in tidying all this up is at an all time high. Consumers are reaching their limit. While the pleasure of cheap fashion is neurologically very real, consumers are equally experiencing the mental exhaustion from the accumulation of all of this cheap clothing.
They are magically tidying up and wanting to spend more of their dollars on experiences and values over stuff.
In the meantime, we're donating so much clothing to charities, much of it too cheap and flimsy to be re-used, that whole industries have grown from this. Not always a positive either:
the flow of Western clothing to developing countries negatively affects them by disrupting local economies and putting textile workers out of jobs.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the constant flood of used clothing is so pervasive that it's even part of the language. In his book, Brooks translates the colloquial Ghanaian phrase "obroni wawu" to "clothes of the dead white man."
The quotes above are from these two articles:
Our love of cheap clothing has a hidden cost – it’s time for a fashion revolution and The Truth About Your Clothing Donations