fast fashion 101 - how fast fashion is destroying our planet
What is fast fashion?
Fast-Fashion can be referred to as a business model that quickly turns trends into clothes using very short manufacturing cycles with no regard to the environment, the people, and the society.
We have to say, there is no „fast fashion book”, and this terrible practice comes in many shapes and forms, but they all have many things in common and that’s why they are all gathered around this term.
This is done with the intent to get the freshest styles into the market that will keep customers buying more and more while tragically disposing of the clothes they do not use, clothes that usually do not last a lot of time because of their low-quality materials.
This business practice has a lot of terrible consequences that we will talk about later, but if you want to dig deeper into this feel free to read is fast-fashion a social issue?.
why fast fashion is bad
This terrible business practice has a lot of downfalls, the biggest problem with fast fashion is its pollution, producing 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions with its activities, which is a lot.
But there are many other things we can mention about it, here are the biggest problems with fast fashion:
- Overproduction, it creates a lot of clothes very quickly and many of them end up in the landfill without even being worn.
- Air Pollution, producing around 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- Water pollution, polluting rivers and seas with the lack of care for the environment while creating these garments.
- Soil pollution, especially when the garments end up in landfills, decomposing into harmful chemicals and leaving plastics behind that do not decompose if the garments are made from polyester.
- Consumerism, as it promotes a culture of buy-n-throw clothes as you wish without considering the impact of your actions.
- Worker exploitation, with very low wages, inhuman working conditions, and slavery-like jobs, is partly the reason why these clothes are so cheap.
- Stealing intellectual property, this business practice needs constant new trends and is willing to do anything to get them, like stealing designs from independent artists giving them no credit, this has happened many times before.
This list goes on and on, sadly, and the environmental impacts of fast fashion are very bad, but if you want to learn more in detail about the issues with this business practice, we recommend you read Huffington Post’s article on Fast-Fashion.
history of the fast fashion industry
This business practice began in the 90s, with a new „revolutionary” method that quickly turned designs from the catwalk to the clothes sold in the stores in just a few weeks.
The pioneer in this business practice was Zara, furthermore, the term fast-fashion was coined in the 90s by the New York Times to describe Zara’s business model and how they turned designs into clothes in just a few weeks or less. If you want to learn more about Zara read our article on this brand and how they gave birth to this fashion production model.
This has helped Zara and the whole Inditex Group, which owns Zara, become one of the biggest fashion retailers in the world, with millions of customers worldwide and many people that buy from their stores every day. This has made their competition adopt the same business model as them and start producing lower-quality and much cheaper garments for a new buy-n-throw consumerism era in the fashion industry.
Today, this model is still at its peak while Zara and other brands are beginning to „greenwash” their activities, which means Zara is telling its customers they are starting to produce more sustainable and ethical clothing when they just are not. They have adopted some „measures” regarding the sustainability of their business and self-imposed goals to reduce their carbon footprint, but there is no evidence supporting the idea that they even care about any of that. And somehow they turned matters worse, not only damaging our planet and exploiting workers but lying to the customers’ faces declaring themselves as „sustainable” and ethical when they are not.
Not so long after people discovered the terrible consequences of this business model and how it affected the environment, also, they discovered how bad workers were treated in the factories producing these garments and began to become aware of the transcendence of their choices and how it affects the world.
why is fast fashion so popular?
In the late 90s and early 2000s this new fashion model took over the streets, it became a booming industry in America with people enthusiastically going shopping for bags full of clothes, many of them not even being used. Brands such as Zara, H&M, Topshop, and Primark took over high street fashion and became the new norm in the fashion industry.
The reason this business model is still popular is that consumers like the cheap prices of these garments, which are so low because these fast fashion brands outsource their costs to the environment and their workers, profiting from cheap labor and not caring at all about the environment. These cheap prices also let their customers buy more and more clothes that they do not even need for the simple fact that they are affordable and do not suppose a financial burden for the customer.
The other reason is the marketing superiority these fast fashion retailers have, with campaigns that get to their potential customers and ultimately make them decide to buy their products. Sustainable Fashion brands do not have the resources to compete against them and sadly today there aren’t many people aware of the problem of fashion and why it needs to be changed. This is the reason we write this blog, to try and spread awareness so we can ditch the planet-killing fast fashion and turn to a more sustainable and respectable fashion model.
Extending more on that, sadly today most people don’t even know what fast or slow or sustainable fashion means, why fashion needs to be changed, or that fashion even has a carbon footprint on our planet, which is very bad and actually surprising considering the gigantic impact of this industry on the planet. This is why people should start talking more about it, sharing news and articles on social media to spread awareness, because if we don’t even know what Sustainable Fashion is or why it exists, we will never spend our money on it.
At the end of the day, some people argue that customers are to blame for purchasing Fast Fashion garments and feeding an industry that is feasting on our planet, while others argue that companies are the sole responsible for this great issue in today’s world. In reality, we can’t blame any of them, nor the customer who unknowingly wants to save their hard-earned money by purchasing these garments, nor the company who produces the goods and services necessary for our day-to-day lives and created a more seemingly „efficient” production model (Even Einstein indirectly contributed to the invention of the atomic bomb).
What is to blame is the lack of information regarding this subject, the fact that most people don’t even know about this at all. This is why it is crucial to spread awareness on this issue because if people don’t know what fast-fashion is, we will never come close to ending it!
fast fashion companies
We know the terrible consequences of fast-fashion and why is it bad, but what brands actually have this business model? Is it really that popular? How can we know if the clothes we buy are sustainable or not?
You may be surprised at first to know how many brands actually practice this business model, even brands you may actually buy from. Well, unfortunately, today it is harder to come across a Sustainable Fashion store than finding a $50 bill in a parking lot (We actually.. did once, but not everyone can brag about something like that), so pretty much most of the big stores fall in this category, but some are way worse than others, as we will see.
Do not worry, we have the answer to these questions. Having said that, here are the most commonly known fast-fashion brands:
The Inditex Group
We put the whole Inditex fashion group here, which owns brands like Zara or Pull&Bear because they all revolve around Fast-Fashion, not only that, Zara is even the pioneer in this unethical business practice and that’s the reason why many people are avoiding buying from them.
This Irish company is well-known for its extremely cheap (and poor quality) clothes. This is one of the living Fast Fashion examples to avoid. Some time ago they were involved in a scandal where they supposedly used child labor in third world countries, although we can’t and will not confirm that (we prefer not to get a lawsuit).
This brand takes Fast Fashion to a whole other level, we may even e able to say that they have invented the Ultra-Fast Fashion, selling extremely cheap clothes of dreadful quality by the ton. Their manufacturing cycles last only a few days and they monitor, eveand n create trends 24/7 with their strong social media presence. They have been involved in innumerable scandals which with only hearing one of them should convince you to not buy from them ever.
This brand is popular in many countries, and its clothes are worn by many people worldwide. However, its Fast-Fashion practices have led them to be part of the Rana Plaza factory collapse which took the lives of many factory workers, which shows the bad working conditions they are in.
This fast-fashion brand is also known for considering textile workers’ rights as optional and producing cheap fast-fashion clothes. Also, worse than that is that they have also been flagged for stealing designs from independent small creators for their own benefit, which is completely unethical.
There are many other brands that we can name, but these are what we considered the most relevant. As always, if you want to take a deep look into these brands, check this article.
alternatives to fast fashion
We know how bad our fashion choices are and the impact of our actions, but how can we avoid all of this and shop sustainably with respect to the planet, the environment, and the people?
Luckily for you, and for everyone, there are many alternatives that offer a sustainable fashion model that does not harm the planet, and the best thing is, you can begin shopping now from the comfort of the internet, from the same device you are using right now to read this! Anyway, here are the best alternatives to fast-fashion:
- Grammar NYC: This beautiful store sells one of the best clothes out there, not only do they use the best quality materials, but they also make their designs with FASHION in mind. The only bad thing about this brand is its price, which is arguably very high, but at least the quality and sustainability match the price greatly. You can visit their store here.
- Two Days Off: This store uses locally produced, ecological clothes made with recycled materials. They use linen, cotton, wool, and hemp for their products. Like the last one, price is not their strength, but they do offer original and stylish clothing. You can visit their store here.
- ABLE: This Ethical Slow Fashion Brand has clothing and accessories made fairly by makers around the world. They are taking a big step in the way for transparency in the fashion industry by publishing their wages. Their clothes are more affordable than the other brands but still not as cheap as one would like to. You can visit their store here.
- Valani: This colorful Plant-based clothing brand creates mostly feminine clothing for a lighter living. Valani’s dreamy garments are made from low-impact fibers like hemp, Tencel, and banana viscose, a bit like Two Days Off. Additionally, the brand uses strategic cutting techniques and reuses fabric scraps to minimize waste. They have really colorful clothes that you should check out here.
- PLEA: This is our own brand! We too offer sustainable slow fashion clothing that you can buy. We mostly focus on t shirts, hoodies, and accessories, but they’re at an affordable price, and not only that, but we offer customizable clothes, That’s right! You can create a custom t shirt, hoodie, or accessories so we can then make them and sent them to you because we use a revolutionary method that does not involve creating tons of clothes before selling them, we just produce them on command! You can check out our shop here.
This calls for explaining the concept of Slow Fashion and Sustainable Fashion. In simple terms, slow fashion is a movement that opposes to fast-fashion and wants to produce clothes in respect to the environment and the people with a more sustainable fashion model, that’s why it’s called slow fashion.
Sustainable Fashion is pretty much the same but focuses more on the sustainability of its materials, using organic ring-spun cotton, hemp, or other ecological and environmentally-friendly materials to create their garments. As it name implies, it aims for a sustainable fashion model that not only opposes to that of the Fast-Fashion but also wants to revolutionize the industry completely.
We hope you have learned something from this article and it helped you understand more clearly what fast-fashion is about, if you want to learn more remember that we have many more articles regarding this subject that go into more detail about the aspects we covered here. We also hope you put all of this information into good practice and will not remain with your arms closed.
We are thrilled to teach people all around the world 🙂 Also, did you really know what Fast Fashion really is and its terrible consequences for the environment, the planet, the workers, society, and the economy? Do you know exactly what the Slow Fashion or Sustainable Fashion movement is? You should really take a look at these articles about this forgotten and unknown but very urgent and important subject, click here to read „Can Fashion Ever Be Sustainable?”, because knowledge is one of the most powerful strengths you can have, while ignorance is your worst weakness.
We also have a big surprise for you! Because we want to give you the right to know us better, we have prepared a carefully dedicated About Us page where we will tell you who we are, what our mission is, what we do, a closer look at our team, and many more things! Do not miss this opportunity and click here to check it out. Also, we invite you to take a look at our Pinterest, where we will pin everyday sustainable fashion-related content, clothing designs, and other things that you will surely love!