Is sustainability the potential death of fast fashion hauls?

Will the rise of sustainability be the end to fast fashion hauls or will haul-culture still thrive in the digital world? Fashion North’s Editor Caitlyn McAdam reports.

Photo credit: Pexels 

The fashion industry has seen a rise in fashion hauls by influencers across social media. From the success of Zoe Sugg and Patricia Bright, more people are showing off the clothing they have obtained from fast fashion such as Pretty Little Thing or Missguided. However, in the age of sustainability and economics, hauls are actively promoting the purchase of fast fashion in bulk, which emphasises that people need new clothes.

Newcastle Youtuber Demi Donnelly, 24, started making videos of her Primark and Boohoo purchases. Demi has 218K subscribers and, her success has allowed her to work on paid sponsorships with brands such as Pretty Little Thing, Boohoo and Nasty Gal where she has styled some of her favourite pieces.

Demi said: “I think any influencer who does a fast fashion haul today gets hate. I have always continued to do my hauls because it’s where I started and it’s what people want to see; it became my brand. If I go a few weeks without a haul people just constantly comment when is your next clothing haul and when are you going to Primark. I have tried to do sustainable hauls with brands before because I thought that’s what people wanted. However, I still got hate for it because it’s just not relatable, for example, the number of people who were like ‘you’ve changed’, ‘you would have never paid £50 for a shirt before.’ I think it’s a vicious circle for influencers because they seem different from a consumer and seem to have more impact than a consumer.”

This promotional stunt will involve a brand gifting the influencer clothes to try and review to show people what they have available to buy at a cheaper price in contrast to sustainable fashion which can be considered as expensive. This allows brands to make viewers feel inapposite if they’re not constantly adding to their wardrobe.

“One of the main arguments I always get is to buy from charity shops or Depop. Plus size items are hard to find in charity shops because they are just not as common as the normal sizing but that does not appeal to everyone. I think people would steer from them if there were equivalent options available, for example, if I could go onto a sustainable website with the same budget and the same items that cater for plus size then I would try it but it’s just not there yet. I know a lot of my audience care more about the price then the sustainability because people who watch my videos cannot afford to buy shirts which are £50, they’re still going to go look for an alternative. If I need clothing items, I would rarely go to a shop like Topshop which could be seen as premium I would go straight to Primark.”

Photo credit: Pexels and media kix

In the digital phenomenon influencer collaborations have resulted in successful brand awareness and generated sales. According to Mediakix established channels like YouTube and Instagram spawned a variety of influencers with a direct line to different audiences. This is encouraging their consumers to shop more which has begun to create a constant sense of need and ultimate dissatisfaction.

Lucy Britnell, 19, Secretary, is always on the hunt for the latest trends on social media and on an average, she spends up to £50 per month on fast fashion. She said: “I think I put a lot of pressure on myself because I want the latest trends and I can’t wait to style them and post it on Instagram. You want more clothes for your money and with £50 you can get more with fast fashion. Everyone wants to keep up and you cannot keep up with the trends if you buy a jumper which is £100. It’s impossible. I buy stuff that I know makes me feel really good which boosts my confidence because I have struggled with that. A year ago I did want peoples validation because I wasn’t as confident but I think if I did not follow all these influencers I would not want to post.”

Photo credit: Lucy Britnel wearing her favourite Missguided party dress in three different colours.

This demonstrates the promotion of overconsumption can result in affecting an individual’s mental health. The impact of success can be quantified by owning a large number of clothing items when in reality it leads to people feeling bad about themselves for not having all these items and it promotes the idea that you can buy yourself an image for a cheaper price.

Photo credit: Pexels

Neil Gregory, Learning and Development Officer at Mental Health Matters said: “Dressing for fashion rather than function has been around for centuries and generations have bought into the latest trends to appear ‘in’. Social media provides a much greater audience for our behaviour. The availability of it means that more people have access to it compared to traditional forms of media, such as magazines. For some, the number of ‘likes’ or engagements they receive can be a psychological gauge of popularity or acceptance.

“For many, it can be a positive experience and provide a platform for them to connect with like-minded individual’s. However, when a person starts to compare themselves to someone on social media, they are perhaps comparing themselves to something, or someone, that simply does not exist. The image may well have been exaggerated, manipulated, or staged and the platform does not facilitate seeing ‘behind the camera or comment’.”

As a result, fast fashion has encouraged haul-culture through influencer marketing by promoting an image to their audience. According to a survey by Fashion North 69% agreed that content creators influence them to buy clothing they have promoted due to the accessibility, affordability and inclusive sizing of the brands. Whereas sustainable fashion is considered as costly and will not satisfy the budget of the consumer.

Photo credit: A survey Fashion North carried out on Instagram

Will sustainability be the end to haul-culture? Tweet us @Fashion_North.

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