Clothing has gotten more affordable over the last two decades, fads come and go in the blink of an eye, and our closets are stuffed with things we rarely wear. For many of us, shopping has become a monthly, if not weekly, affair.
While you continue to spend less while acquiring more, the earth continues to suffer as a result of your compulsive shopping, a behavior that has come to be known as fast fashion.
What Is Fast Fashion?
What exactly is fast fashion? The simplest definition of fast fashion is a business model that utilizes low-cost materials and labor to mass create ‘in vogue’ clothes.
Clothing labels use this approach to take inspiration from fashion shows and celebrity culture and transform it into products that are available online and in stores virtually immediately. These are affordable but fashionable clothing.
Fast fashion is driven by an increasing consumer need for convenience and value in shopping. Rather than needing to wait for new seasonal collections (i.e. spring/summer), shoppers may now purchase fashionable items all year long at a discounted price.
Why Is Fast Fashion So Contaminating?
You’re probably wondering why fast fashion is considered undesirable since, as a customer, it appears to benefit you. What could possibly be wrong with getting more for less?
Fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry, after oil. To mass-produce fashionable clothing overnight, fashion companies must cut prices and shorten production times. This frequently entails making sacrifices in the name of profit. The environment, people, and animals are affected in the process.
The following are a few issues with quick fashion that will cause you to reevaluate your shopping habits:
The fast fashion business is primarily responsible for the environmental degradation that the fashion industry continues to cause. Fast fashion brands use toxic chemicals, hazardous dyes, and synthetic textiles that leach into the water supplies of the nations where the clothes is manufactured. The same clothing end up damaging your home’s water supply when you wash them. As a result, the fashion sector is the world’s second largest polluter of clean water, trailing only agriculture.
Because new stylish items are presented so frequently, we end up disposing of an increasing amount of clothing, resulting in a massive volume of textile waste. In Canada, for example, the average household discards 81 pounds of textiles per year. Each year, North Americans discard 9.5 million tons of apparel. The terrible part is that the majority of these garments may be reused.
Fast fashion clothing that is discarded contains lead, insecticides, and a plethora of other pollutants. Harmful garments practically never degrade and continue to release these carcinogens into the air for years.
Related article: Sustainable Fabrics
Violations of human rights
Today, the world’s garment industry employs over 40 million people. The bulk of people’s rights and protections are routinely infringed. Garment workers are among the world’s lowest paid laborers. Garment workers are frequently underpaid, undernourished, and pushed to their limits due to a lack of alternative employment opportunities.
The process of creating fast fashion has a profound effect on the persons who create it. Certain clothes and accessories contain harmful levels of lead. Garment workers are constantly exposed to lead, which increases their risk of infertility, heart attacks, and other health problems.
Additionally, the health of garment workers is constantly jeopardized by excessive hours, a lack of resources, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and frequently physical abuse.
The effect on animals
Fast fashion is also having an effect on animals worldwide. Marine animals consume harmful dyes and microfibers thrown into waterways, disrupting their life cycles and even killing some.
Animal welfare is also jeopardized when leather and fur are utilized to produce clothing. There is a plenty of genuine fur produced in abhorrent conditions on fur farms. This has resulted in real fur being more affordable to make and purchase than faux fur.
The consumer’s impact
Due to the rapid rate at which clothing becomes outmoded and trends are created, fast fashion is constantly pushing a “throw-away” mentality. Fast fashion convinces us that we must constantly shop in order to stay current. Our carbon footprint continues to grow as a result of this trend.
Related article: Fast Fashion Facts
List of Fast Fashion Brands and Companies
Not all fashion brands are horrible, so avoid canceling your favorite clothes brand prematurely. Thus, how do you identify quick fashion brands? Here are four of the most visible symptoms of rapid fashion:
- They are quick to release clothing following the appearance of a trend on the catwalk or being modeled by a celebrity or social media influencer.
- Their garments are manufactured in massive facilities where workers are paid inhumane rates.
- You’re constantly under pressure to purchase their apparel owing to its scarcity.
- Clothes constructed using low-cost, low-quality materials.
Here are ten fast fashion brands to avoid, along with their justifications:
Uniqlo is a Japanese apparel brand that specializes on casual wear. They operate in Japan as well as other foreign markets.
Uniqlo has been the subject of numerous allegations involving substandard pay and abuses of human rights. In 2015, one of their Chinese suppliers claimed violations of various labor rights. In 2016, it was stated that Uniqlo required employees to work excessive overtime hours for low pay, in hazardous conditions with a bullying and harassment culture.
Topshop is a British fashion retailer specializing in clothing, footwear, cosmetics, and accessories. This brand operates 500 locations worldwide.
Numerous instances of workers being treated unfairly have been reported.
Rip Curl designs and manufactures surfing apparel and operates stores in 61 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, 29 countries in North America, and 55 countries in Europe.
This brand’s workshop is located in North Korea, which has been accused of contemporary slavery.
Urban Outfitters sells apparel, footwear, beauty products, sportswear and equipment, home goods, and music on vinyl and cassette tapes.
This brand does not pay a living wage to its employees and has been discovered asking them to work for free on weekends.
Additionally, their clothing is made from a variety of synthetic textiles.
GAP is an American clothing and accessory shop headquartered in San Francisco. They operate around 3500 locations worldwide, including approximately 2400 in the United States alone.
GAP has been embroiled in more than its share of labor disputes. They’ve previously made news for failing to pay employees for overtime and subjecting employees to dangerous working conditions.
Fashion Nova’s headquarters are in downtown Los Angeles, and the company operates five retail sites around Southern California.
Their clothing is, predictably, inexpensive yet of terrible quality.
Adidas began in Germany. The company creates footwear, apparel, and accessories.
They are Europe’s largest sportswear producer and are second only to Nike in terms of international manufacturers.
Adidas manufactures a significant number of fashion items, the majority of which are not created from sustainable resources. Additionally, they make their items using animal resources such as wool and leather.
New Look is one of the early fast fashion brands in the United Kingdom. They have grown into a global chain with 895 locations worldwide.
New Look continues to create apparel items from animal goods such as leather, down, and exotic animal fur.
Missguided is a multi-channel business headquartered in the United Kingdom that sells clothing aimed at women aged 16 to 35.
Missguided was discovered to have utilized fur from cats, raccoon dogs, and rabbits illegally in the creation of shoes in 2017.
Mango produces collections for ladies, men, and children. Spain is their primary market.
When an eight-story commercial building in Bangladesh collapsed in 2013, Mango was one of the businesses identified as having sourced products from the building’s factories. Over 1000 people were killed and another 2400 were injured in the collapse.
Mango was never present at sessions convened to negotiate on victim compensation.
Alternatives to Fast Fashion
You are not required to continue contributing to the devastation caused by fast fashion; there are a variety of fast fashion alternatives and ethical clothing manufacturers to explore. Several excellent and reasonably priced options include the following:
Purchase fewer items
The most effective method of reducing textile pollution is to purchase less. The lower the demand, the less apparel will be manufactured. Purchase only what you require and are certain you will wear for an extended period of time.
Purchase clothing from eco-friendly brands
Fashion firms are increasingly considering the environmental and social impact of their operations. There are quite a few sustainable fashion brands who manufacture their products ethically.
Related article: Best Sustainable Clothing Brands
Invest in top quality
Consumers are always sacrificing quality for economic savings. We don’t give much regard to quality as long as it’s not too expensive. Cheap, on the other hand, only lasts a few months before it needs to be replaced.
Begin purchasing apparel based on its quality rather than its price. The higher the quality, the longer the item will last, and so you will avoid succumbing to rapid fashion.
Purchase used, swap, and rent clothing
Rather than purchasing new clothing, shop at thrift stores. There are several second-hand shops located throughout the world. Exchange clothing with your friends and family. This is a cost-effective and environmentally beneficial method of replenishing your wardrobe. If you’re looking for something to wear to a party that you’re unlikely to wear again, consider renting rather than purchasing.
When Exactly Did Fast Fashion Begin?
Fast fashion is considered to have begun in the early 1990s with the arrival of Zara in New York. The phrase “fast fashion” was developed by the New York Times to characterize Zara’s goal of completing a garment’s design stage in 15 days or less.
Which Brands Are Considered Fast Fashion?
There are numerous quick fashion brands worldwide. UNIQLO, GAP, Primark, TopShop, Missguided, Forever 21, Zaful, Boohoo, Adidas, Zara, New Look, Fashion Nova, Mango, and H&M are just a few of the well-known brands.
Related article: Best Slow Fashion Brands
What Are the Advantages of Fast Fashion?
The primary benefit of fast fashion is the affordability of apparel, and the majority of quick fashion brands include on-trend attire.
Now that you’re aware of what fast fashion is and the harm it’s wreaking on the globe, it’s past time you took responsibility for permanently ending fast fashion. Are you up for the task?