Fast fashion refers to cheap, mass-produced clothing often replicating the newest styles unveiled on catwalks and fashion shows.
Fast Fashion. Slow Fashion. Two terms that are being tossed around a lot recently. Slow fashion has been gaining momentum as consumers continue to become increasingly aware of the problems and environmental impacts surrounding the fashion industry and how our consumer behavior contributes to its high demand culture.
What are the problems of Fast Fashion?
A “throw away” culture has been created among consumers (even myself have been guilty of this), where we toss or discard barely worn clothing to purchase new items on a frequent basis. Have you seen brands such as Forever 21, Fashion Nova, ASOS, Pretty Little Thing, H&M, etc that are able to release hundreds of new styles a month? These are examples of fast fashion brands who produce thousands of items a month, with the chase for new styles leading to poor quality clothing, horrible wages and working conditions for garment workers, and a larger impact on environmental sustainability. These are issues that have been in the spotlight recently with brands such as Boohoo refusing to pay their for their orders admist COVID-19 and being called out for unfair wages of their workers, those called out in the #payup campaign trending on social media to honor their commitments, and platforms on the rise such as Poshmark, Depop, along with thrifting small businesses that help promote upcycling and sustainability in order to protect the longterm wellbeing of our planet.
With brands at the rush to release new items, the clothing produced isn’t the greatest quality or made to last and is cheaply produced overseas in enormous quantities. This continues to contribute to the harmful waste of clothing being massively produced and putting a strain on our environmental resources. Consumers purchase more, throw away more and continue the cycle. Our society has cultivated a culture where we want the latest item that’s released every week or month, not just every season. Fast fashion may have allowed us to look our best at an “affordable” rate, but the impact on humanity and the world around us is much greater.
“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying.”
— Lucy Siegle
Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion
The main elements of fast fashion—trend replication, rapid production, low quality, competitive pricing—add up to having a large impact on the environment and everyone involved. Water pollution from the production and dying of textiles and fabrics have ruined waterways and damaged fragile ecosystems in our inhabited waters. The fashion industry is also a major water consumer. Cotton, for example, needs a LOT of water to grow and it takes 10,000 gallons of water to produce a single pair of jeans. Fast fashion is draining our environmental resources for profit and will continue to have devastating impacts in the years to come. Waste is by far the biggest impact of fast fashion.
By 2030, it’s expected that fashion waste will increase to a 148 million ton problem.https://www.rubicon.com/blog/14-sustainable-fashion-facts/
Sustainable fashion or slow fashion has gained new momentum in recent years with the rise of social media platforms such as Depop, Poshmark, Etsy (the OG), etc that give consumers a way to shop more sustainably. This includes secondhand, thrifting, renting, upcycling or repurposing clothing. Sustainable brands are also emerging from clothing, to accessories, shoes, and more that aim to be more transparent in their production processes and the clothing they create. These platform and communities, along with more consumer awareness of the impacts the fashion industry have on our environment, continue to create a need for more transparency in the brands we choose to purchase from. Consumers are no longer shy to ask the difficult questions and expect the brands who claim to be sustainable actually are and their process and all information is made transparent.
What is Slow Fashion?
Slow Fashion is an awareness and approach to fashion, which keeps in mind the processes and resources required to make clothing, particularly focusing on sustainability. This includes buying better-quality garments that will last longer and values fair treatment of all people, animals and our planet.
Some Characteristics of Sustainable Shopping Brands
- Locally Sourced and Produced Garments
- Transparency in their production process, pays fair working wages, etc
- Often in local stores, rather than in large chain businesses and locations
- Fewer specific styles per collection, released throughout the year (versus the daily, weekly, and monthly inventory fast fashion brands produce)
♻️ If you would like to me to review a few sustainable fashion brands for the blog let me know in the comments below! ♻️
Other Ways to Shop More Sustainably
- Make Thoughtful Purchases — Buy what you need!
- Rent clothing for specific occasions
- Build a Capsule Collection (or invest in high quality statement pieces that you can be styled in numerous ways!)
- Extend the life of your clothing + Upcycle the items you can!
I’m so excited to share more information of different topics on my blog! I’m constantly learning and getting educated about sustainability and can’t wait to continue this series! If you have any specific questions or topics you’d like me to cover in greater detail be sure to let me know in the comments or on my social channels!