What Is Fast Fashion?

Fashion is such a great way to characterize your individual style. Iconic fashionistas have been doing it for years, helping to create new trends along the way. Think Coco Chanel and Elizabeth Taylor or Audrey Hepburn and the little black dress (LBD).

But somewhere along the way, quality fashion pieces have been replaced with what has been dubbed “fast fashion.” The term fast fashion refers to inexpensive, trendy clothing inspired by runway looks or what the most popular celebrity happens to be wearing.

Many mass-market retailers look for the latest trends and then churn them out en masse without regard for any kind of longevity. This hits consumers in the pocketbook in the long run and has a negative impact on the environment.

If you’re looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle, fast fashion simply has to go! This is because so many corners are cut in fast fashion to make sure that clothes are designed, produced, and shelved in stores before the next trend wave rolls ashore.

Many of these companies achieve higher profits by using toxic chemicals and dyes that can be dangerous to humans to wear or that are disposed of irresponsibly when these clothes are made. Often times, these mass-produced clothing pieces have pesticides, lead, and other harmful additives that you would never find in a quality clothing piece.

So, in addition to consumers wearing these chemical-laden garments, you have to stop and think about the factory workers who produce them and are also exposed. These workers are often underpaid and overworked and sometimes even malnourished. But they enter into this line of work because options are limited.

Think about this: if you were to study just how frequently the merchandise changed at mass-market retailers like Forever 21, Zara, H&M, Charlotte Russe, etc., you would be floored. It helps to paint the picture of these factory workers constantly turning out piece after piece after piece.

And it also begs the question: Where do all of the items go that don’t sell? In a lot of cases, to the tune of about 11 million tons annually in the US alone, tossed out clothing goes right into landfills.

You get what you pay for, and this is absolutely true when it comes to fast fashion. The whole idea behind it is that you fall in love with a style, wear it until you don’t like it anymore (or in most cases, the garment falls apart), and you replace it with something in kind.

But for those of us who are opposed to financing and supporting this scary and damaging industry, the rise of “slow fashion” is where we set our sights.

Slow fashion is exactly what you might think it is: the exact opposite of fast fashion. For buyers who have made slow fashion their objective, this means buying clothing from reputable brands who practice environmental and social responsibility.

Looking for companies who source their materials and products from places that have fair labor practices in place. Companies who employ slow fashion practices look to natural and renewable materials to create pieces that will stand the test of time or can be recycled or even upcycled. Some brands that show love to people and our planet are Patagonia, Outerknown, and Kotn.

Websites like ThredUp allow consumers to clean out their closets and potentially turn a profit when other shoppers purchase their items. They are an online consignment store, of sorts, and do have a watchful eye for quality merchandise. See their link above for a guide to the top sustainable clothing brands, many of which they carry on their site.


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