A worrying trend reveals we're following celebrities on social media and copying their lifestyles with fast fashion fixes. Ayesha Muttucumaru reports

Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

With the word ‘selfie’ recently joining the likes of ‘muggle’, ‘bootylicious’ and ‘twerk’ as bona fide words in The Oxford English Dictionary, it can now be said that our fascination with social media has been officially immortalised for future generations to come. However, as great as it is to be able to have instant access to our favourite celebrity’s lifestyle, wardrobe and backstage secrets, has our obsession come at a cost to both our self-esteems and wallets too?

According to a new survey, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and celebrity culture are driving 16-25 year olds to spend hundreds of pounds each month on fast fashion, with almost half (46%) admitting to having ‘Insta-envy’ - being jealous of their friends’ and celebrities’ outfits. Of the 47% who admitted to spending on average £1,000 each year trying to emulate the style of their favourite stars, two thirds made their purchases at shops that produce low cost ‘fast fashion’.

For women, the most copied celebrity was Alexa Chung, but she was closely followed by Cheryl Cole, Kim Kardashian and Rihanna. For men, it was David Beckham (of course), with Olly Murs, Dermot O’Leary and Kanye West snapping at his impeccably well-groomed heels.

MORE GLOSS: How to perfect the 'belfie'

So could the phenomenon be causing a ‘compare and despair’ culture among our young people and are the consequences more far-reaching than previously thought? According to youth charity vInspired, it appears so. The recent launch of their Get Trashed campaign aims to highlight the fact that a third of all clothing items bought in the UK end up in landfill, a fact that 80% of those surveyed said that they had no idea about.

The campaign aims to save over 10,000 clothes from landfill before February 2014 by encouraging young people to put the issue of waste to the front of their minds and look to embrace the trend for swapping parties, reuse, recycling and customisation. They recently hosted a mass clothes swap fashion and music party at The Ministry of Sound to raise awareness of the initiative.

Terry Ryall, vInspired Chief Executive, said: “Fast fashion might be cheap, but it comes with a cost. A cost to UK landfills, a cost to the global environment, and often a cost to human life. We want to change the way young people think about disposable fashion – and this survey of Britain’s young people, this weekend’s Get Trashed Car Boot Disco event at Ministry of Sound and our broader campaign is the start of what we hope will be a major difference.”

MORE GLOSS: Which celebrity lifestyle will you follow?

Speaking about the study, Fashion Commentator Grace Woodward said: “I’m not surprised to see that Instagram is fuelling the need young people have to copy the style of their idols. It’s an easy and accessible way to see what stars are wearing, get tips on what is on trend and keep up with what friends are wearing. We can clearly see that celebrity culture is ensuring a new generation of young people are growing up on a diet of fast fashion, however a growing number are rebelling and looking to customisation and swapping to ensure they are unique in their style”.

With the findings also revealing that young people are checking Instagram and fashion blogs on average three times a day to ensure that they are keeping up with the latest fashion trends, it’s important for young people to maintain a sense of perspective when going online. After all we should remember that these are people that have unimaginable amounts of disposable income, often get freebies by the bucket load and are living a life whereby their looks and appearance are not only their livelihood, but also form part of their branding too.

Let it provide some light entertainment and of course, let it be inspirational, but don’t allow it to create an environment where we feel constantly inadequate to our meticulously well-PR’d, well-managed celebrity counterparts and their Instagram accounts.