How Micro-trends are affecting the planet

Women working at a factory in China. Brands like Shien set up their factories in China to get cheaper labor.

Edwin Lee (Fallout Media)


Aize Hassan, Photography Editor

 Micro-trends are fashion trends, whether they be a specific outfit or an aesthetic, that become extremely popular for a short period of time and then immediately go out of style. With the introduction of social media sites such as Tik Tok, micro-trends have exploded.

   It seems as if every month Tik Tok promotes a new micro-trend, with the most recent being “coconut girl,” a trend that focuses on bringing nostalgic beach pieces back from the early-2000’s. This is a problem because online shopping sites like Shien or AliExpress cater perfectly to the mass consumption of these trends.

   These companies sell a ton of clothes by using unethical means of labor from foreign countries, which produce cheap clothing that is not good quality. Due to this, every item they sell comes with a cheap price tag, enticing others to buy from them.

   The cheap price tag combined with the constant new trends creates the perfect formula for mass consumption of clothing. Although, when the micro-trend ends, people that bought these cheap items are left with pieces of clothing they no longer are interested in wearing. Micro-trends tend to be very specific, so it is rare that items catered to those specific trends would even manage to blend in with the rest of a wardrobe. Due to this, the clothing is either thrown away, ending up in landfills or is donated to a thrift store.

   This hurts laborers in foreign countries as they are being used to produce even more clothing to fit a certain aesthetic. It supports the unethical situations they are forced to work in, and their hard work ends up being a waste after all.

   This over-consumption of clothing is also contributing to even more pollution on the Earth. The factories producing all of this do not use ethical ways of disposing waste and in general, produce factory gases. When their work and resources are desired more than they were before, they end up causing even more pollution than they originally did. Along with that, the waste that these micro-trends cause adds to the 17 million tons of clothing the United States discards.

   The real solution to this problem is to shop sustainably and find good pieces that will last for a long time. They do not have to come from expensive shops like Reformation, they can also be found in thrift stores. It is important to look for clothing that would work today but would also work five years from now. Shopping like this will eventually contribute to the development of personal style for many, which is so much better for the well-being of others and the well-being of Earth.