Many of us shop weekly without ever thinking about the impact we are making on the world around us. How could shopping for clothing affect anyone else other than yourself? It may seem like a harmless action. One that nearly every person on the earth does. However, awareness is beginning. This awareness starts with knowing everything about slow fashion vs fast fashion.
First, let’s start with what we are all already familiar with. That is fast fashion.
What is fast fashion?
Not long ago we would shop only a few times out of the year. Do you remember going shopping for school clothes in the Fall and then again in the Spring? We would shop based on season and how fast we grew out of clothing.
Now, it is a vastly different story. Over time clothes became much cheaper, the trend cycles on clothing items sped up, and people started buying more! Who wouldn’t want cheaper clothing, right? Because of this, global clothing chains now rule the fashion world in person and online.
This is how fast fashion was created.
Fast fashion can be defined as cheap yet trendy clothing items that mimic catwalk or celebrity culture and are created at an accelerated speed to meet consumer demand. The goal of fast fashion is to get the newest and trendiest styles out on the market as fast as possible so more people buy them when they are ‘popular’.
The issues related to fast fashion largely depend on the never-ending cycle of overproduction and consumption it creates. This is one of the largest elements of slow fashion vs fast fashion.
What is the impact of fast fashion on the earth?
With this cycle comes great effects to our planet.
Since there is such demand to get these trendy clothes out on the market at lightning speed, environmental corners are often cut. Fast fashion’s negative impact on the earth arises from its use of cheap and toxic textile dyes, the use of environmental resources, and incessant pollution from past trends.
First, it is important to recognize that the fashion industry has quickly become one of the largest contributors to the pollution of clean water globally. This industry is ranked second behind agriculture.
Second, since there is such demand for certain textiles to make these cheap clothing items, there is an increase in environmental concerns. Polyester, one of the most popular of these fabrics, is derived from fossil fuels which directly contribute to global warming.
Finally, since trend cycles have sped up dramatically, trendy clothing can turn from popular to not within days! This means that clothing items can be bought and thrown out in a short amount of time. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Americans throw away over 300 million pairs of shoes each year! As for clothing, it is estimated that around 84% of clothing ends up in these same landfills.
We are throwing away an extreme number of items purchased through the fashion industry and in only one year! With this amount of waste, it is crucial to analyze slow fashion vs fast fashion.
Related Post: The Best Sustainable Linen Clothing Brands
What is the impact of fast fashion on us?
While there truly is an endless list of effects fast fashion has on the planet, it is crucial to examine how it also affects people. In today’s world, finding popular clothing for cheap is exciting!
I mean… who doesn’t love shopping?
Though, since there is such an intense demand, the fashion industry is having to keep up with an adequate supply. So, that super stylish outfit you just bought last week? Don’t expect it to be around for much longer even if the style is popular for years.
Because they are made cheaply. There is a reason you got the entire outfit for as little as $30. Fast fashion companies are creating an outrageous amount of clothing very quickly and for very (VERY) cheap. This means that the clothes you buy are not going to be high-quality and will not last as long as you would like.
Hence, why these clothing items end up in the landfill so quickly!
What is the impact of fast fashion on workers?
Finally, let’s talk about some people we often don’t even think about. That is, the people making the clothes you and I wear every day.
If the clothing you are wearing was super cheap, you can almost guarantee that the people who made them are not being treated fairly. This can range from extremely low pay wages to hazardous working conditions.
Diving deeper into this issue, the high demand for these items most certainly means these individuals are being overworked. This can result in overworked and mentally drained adult workers or even child and slave labor use.
Simply put, there is most likely a lack of human rights for workers to quickly get out the next hottest clothing item. Ethics flies right out the window. Examining slow fashion vs fast fashion is more important now than ever!
Examples of fast fashion brands and companies
- Forever 21
- Fashion Nova
What is slow fashion?
Slow fashion was created as a response to fast fashion. It is a movement to get back to where we started in the fashion industry. Ultimately, the mission is to lessen the impact we have on the earth by seeing where fast fashion has already taken us.
Slow fashion is defined as being an awareness and approach to fashion. Those partaking in slow fashion consider the processes and resources used to create the clothing items they purchase. The overarching themes of this movement are consciousness and sustainability.
While fast fashion is focused on getting the trendiest piece of clothing to consumers in the shortest amount of time, slow fashion aims to get high-quality long-lasting clothing to buyers to be used for years to come.
The overall impact of slow fashion
The movement of slow fashion has not only reduced the use of damaging processes on clothing creation but many brands that use slow fashion are now encouraging others to do so and play a direct role in environmental regeneration.
Many brands practicing slow fashion have adopted a more natural way of making clothing. This often involved the use of natural materials grown ethically and sustainably without destroying habitats. Harsh chemical dyes have also become a thing of the past for these companies.
With these changes, an overall difference in quality has emerged. While you may have to pay a little more, you are also receiving a higher-quality item that will last much longer.
Finally, slow fashion is all about doing the right thing. Whether this is for the planet, the consumer, or the worker. Therefore, the ethical production of an item also entails the ethical treatment of the worker that made that product.
Now, it may be obvious who the real winner is in slow fashion vs fast fashion!
Examples of slow fashion
- Eileen Fisher
- Alternative Apparel
Wear clothes that matter
A famous quote by Ines de la Fressange goes “the secret of great style is to feel good in what you wear”.
When reading this quote, it is easy to think about how the style of clothing can make us feel good. The clothes we wear can make us feel confident.
We typically don’t think about where that clothing came from, the process it underwent to be created, and how that can make us feel.
When you make the choice to purchase clothing from a brand practicing slow fashion vs fast fashion, it can make a difference in the way you see yourself and how others see you as well.
Wear clothes that matter. Whether they matter to the planet, to you, or others.