I worked in the fast fashion industry for a few years and have since been intensively advocating against this exploitative and ecologically disastrous model. The current rate at which trends evolve due to social media is dizzying, making me miss the more sustainable SS / FW approach. Beyond the environmental impact, I’m particularly concerned about the effect on the psychology of younger generations and their fear of not fitting in—a paradox in a society that champions individualism above all.

Take, for instance, the TikTok phenomenon of fashion styles like “Y2K,” “tomato girl,” or “Mob wife.” These trends go beyond mere clothing choices; they propagate a lifestyle narrative, evoking images of luxurious summers or sophisticated escapes. They do not just sell products but market identities, embodying the epitome of commodity fetishism—the assignment of value to products well beyond their practical uses. Ironically, most consumers try to replicate these aesthetics with inexpensive fast-fashion items, failing to see the paradox.

Time and again, we witness how the pursuit of these fleeting ideals traps us in a continuous cycle of discontent and consumption. Caught in an unending quest for validation through material possessions, we become blind to the systemic forces fueling our dissatisfaction. It’s a vicious cycle, driven by the ceaseless marketing of idealized lifestyles and identities. The saddest aspect is our apparent contentment with defining ourselves by what we own or how we look, rather than by our achievements—placing matter over substance at its worst.

As long as our society equates identity with outward appearances and material acquisitions, this cycle will continue. I firmly believe that only through embracing the concept of degrowth, where we prioritize well-being over perpetual consumption, can we escape this trap. It’s only by reducing our obsession with growth and mindless consumption that we can discover true meaning, sustainability, and fulfillment in our lives and the world around us.