How to avoid being duped by fast fashion: 'Designed to fail'

This Earth Day we spoke to sustainable stylist Nina Gbor about how to look good, feel good, and save the planet.

It’s Earth Day, and Australia has a problem that we need to talk about.

Fast fashion and ultra-fast fashion are making you look bad, ruining the environment, and not paying workers a living wage.

“Get off the fashion treadmill, stop wasting money on trends, and buy things that are timeless,” is the advice from sustainable stylist Nina Gbor.

Left - clothes hanging up outside on a rack. Right - discarded manequins.
Fast fashion is 'designed to fail' and buying it is bad for the environment and bad for you. Source: Getty (File)

That means filling your closet with items that work for your body shape, personality, lifestyle and complexion.

“Then you're likely to use those clothes for a long period of time. Because they work for your daily life and they look great on you,” Nina told Yahoo Lifestyle. “You just need to completely ignore trends and focus on you.”


Fast facts about fast fashion you need to know before you buy

In Australia, most clothes are worn an average of just seven times.

We import around 1.42 billion garments a year, according to data from the Australia Fashion Council, and just three per cent are made locally. On average, that’s 56 brand-new items per person.

Around 227,000 tonnes of clothes are discarded each year, with many incinerated or sent to landfill. Only 7000 tonnes of this are recycled into new items, sent to secondhand shops, or poorer nations.

As you probably guessed, the United States is the biggest per capita consumer of fashion in the world, but did you know that Australia comes in second?

Sadly it’s not just these two countries that are creating the problem. The world produces approximately 100 billion garments a year and 84 per cent end up in landfill.

This is terrible! What can I do?

If you’re buying cheap, that means someone else is losing out so you can get a bargain.

The 2023 annual Fashion Revolution Week 2023 will mark 10 years since the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh. The disaster unfolded after a roof collapsed, killing 1134 workers housed in unsafe conditions and injuring thousands of others.

This year’s global events will celebrate fashion while advocating against human exploitation and environmental destruction.

If you’re in Sydney this weekend, you may wish to attend a sustainable fashion clothes swap hosted by Nina that’s part of Fashion Revolution and Earth Day. It’s in collaboration with the City of Sydney and the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney.

Piles of clothes outside in Bangladesh.
Fashion is a growing environmental problem and it's going to get worse unless you take action. Source: Getty (File)

If you’re living elsewhere there are still a few other simple tips Nina would like to share. She recommends avoiding garments made from polyester. Not only are they made from fossil fuels, but they can also shed microfibres into the ocean, killing fish and other marine life.

Cheap clothes are "designed to fail" so if you want something new in your closet, buy something second-hand or if you can afford it purchase something that’s built to last.

If you want to avoid buying altogether and get creative. “Try restyling — meaning using what you have in your closet in different ways,” Nina said. “If you have an event like a wedding, instead of buying something new, take a dress you have and try it on with a different pair of shoes, a different hat, or a different set of jewellery.”

Never miss a thing. Sign up to Yahoo Lifestyle’s daily newsletter.

Or if you have a story idea, email us at