There is a showdown doing on— slow fashion vs fast fashion. Fast fashion has been on the rise over the last 20 years. It has allowed brands such as Shein, Zara, H&M, Forever 21, and GAP to grow into large corporations worth billions of dollars.
The success of fast fashion is based on low prices and consumer appetite. Because of this, the rapid rate at which cheap clothing depicting recent fashion trends is being released only feeds into shoppers’ desire to buy more. In the past, the fashion industry ran on four seasons a year: fall, winter, spring, and summer.
These days, fast fashion companies produce about 52 micro-seasons a year—or one new collection a week.
Slow Fashion vs Fast Fashion – The Results
The results? Demand for fast fashion has reached unprecedented levels. Through the influence of social media and advancements in manufacturing, communication, and distribution, the industry is churning out over 100 billion items of clothing each year.
Arguably, fast fashion is a good thing for many people around the world. The sector employs hundreds of millions while allowing consumers access to affordable and fashionable clothing.
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion refers to the process of producing garments that are harmful to the earth’s resources and utilizes unsafe or unfair labor to pass down the cheap cost to the consumer.
Fast fashion has a disastrous social and environmental impact. Besides being responsible for nearly 10% of global carbon emissions, the industry is also infamously known for the amount of resources it wastes and the millions of garments sent to landfill every year.
Not to mention the risk to workers’ health and well-being. Not only are garment workers overworked and underpaid, but they’re also routinely exposed to inhumanely high temperatures, harmful chemicals, and even physical violence. Poor working conditions are usually not considered when you’re thinking about fashion brands.
Although the fashion industry as a whole is guilty of committing many crimes against people and the environment, our obsession with consumerism makes us part of the problem.
Fortunately, there are better options out there.
What is Slow Fashion?
The movement toward a more sustainable, ethical fashion industry is slow fashion. Slow fashion means that the production of clothing takes into consideration all aspects of the supply chain with respect to people, the environment, and animals.
The movement of slow fashion takes into account the following:
- Who makes slow fashion garments and what is their workplace like?
- What material do they use for the item, the sourcing, and is it sustainable?
- What’s the impact of production on the environment?
- Does the process harm animals?
- How long will the garment last?
- What happens when it reaches the end of life? Can the item recycle and/or discard in a safe manner?
Slow fashion not only focuses on the fashion industry, it asks all of us, consumers, to change our shopping habits and adopt other mindful habits that are beneficial for the planet. Once you know, you know and it becomes easier to distinguish between slow fashion vs fast fashion.
How Can You Incorporate Slow Fashion in Your Life?
- Be more thoughtful about your clothing and choose trans-seasonal, classic pieces you can wear year-round.
- Before purchasing, ask yourself: “Will I wear this outfit at least 30 times?” If the answer is no, resist impulse buying.
- Choose clothing made from natural fibers, recycled materials, or deadstock fabrics.
- Educate yourself about the clothing brands you love. Ask them questions about their sourcing, production, etc.
- Consider thrifting or shopping at vintage and second-hand outlets.
- Opt for trendy designer rentals for special occasions like graduations, weddings, or anniversaries.
- Unsubscribe from newsletters from influencers and brands that promote fast fashion. Instead, find sustainable fashion influencers that will inspire you to shop sustainably and ethically.
- Take care of your clothes to make them last by washing them according to label instructions and repairing them when damaged.
- Sell, swap, or donate your unwanted clothes to keep them from landfill.
- Use your voice – Instagram and Facebook are great platforms to demand change from fast fashion brands. Don’t forget LinkedIn also reaches brands and companies on a corporate level.
How To Tell If a Brand Follows Slow Fashion
Nowadays, many companies are “greenwashing” their values by making false claims about sustainability to market their products. If you want to know whether or not a brand is part of the slow fashion movement, here are a few things you can look out for.
- Certifications of sustainable and ethical production – GOTs, BCI, PETA, and Fairtrade are only some of the most known.
- Use of high-quality materials, organic, innovative, or recycled fabrics
- Zero waste design – design techniques that aim to eliminate textile waste
- Cruelty-free practices
- Eco-friendly packaging
- Small production batches
- Partners with skilled artisans, sewers, and craftspeople
What are some Slow Fashion Brands we recommend?
There are a plethora of options for slow fashion companies. If you are considering shopping from them, we commend you for making this change. We want to point out that we do sell a lot of our clothing on Poshmark, and with the balance we accrue, we purchase our clothing. Most of our clothes come from reselling such as Poshmark.
We have items from brands that are slow fashion, like Londre. Londre is a women-owned fashion line that makes its clothing out of recycled plastic. Yes! It’s true. I (shannon) own a few of their pieces, including a couple of swimsuits and I love the way they fit. They are size inclusive so they have a wide range of options for everyone. We highly encourage you to check out their sustainable line.
Having purchased a few of their items from Poshmark, we are now big fans of Fair Indigo. Their garments are made of organic Peruvian Pima cotton. They are meant to last! Not only do they promote fair wages, and support artisans, but they give back via their foundation— Fair Indigo Foundation. The Fair Indigo Foundation is a non-profit that helps educate and promote the basic needs of those who do not have it in the Peruvian communities where they harvest their cotton.
If you are an adventurer like we are or just want some really cool outdoorsy clothing, Patagonia is one of the leaders in slow fashion. They are Fair Trade Certified. Their clothing is made using organic cotton, as well as other recycled materials. They also have free repair and workshops to teach you how to repair items yourself.
Join the Slow Fashion Movement
Fast fashion’s dark side is no longer a secret. The fashion world is being questioned and it is happening more often. The slow fashion movement is gaining mainstream popularity and the future looks promising as more brands, individuals, and communities continue to fight for the planet against climate change, fair wages, and the safety of garment workers.
But before you hop on this exciting movement, remember that this is called ‘slow fashion ’ for a reason. Take your time researching, reorganizing, and decluttering your wardrobe and getting used to new shopping habits. By being intentional about sustainable clothing and those that use sustainable materials, you’ll help create a better future for ourselves, the fashion industry, and the planet.
Accessorizing is Key
Don’t forget, when you are a sustainable shopper and purchase things for longevity, rather than in quantity, it is helpful to accessorize. Jewelry should be considered a slow-fashion statement as well. Consider staying organized with your pieces to keep them longer and to use them to compliment your outfits. Here are some great tips for jewelry organization that will help you in your process.
Frequently Asked Questions | FAQs
You do not have to get rid of those items. Wear them until they wear out and cannot be repaired any longer. If they don’t fit, donate or sell them. Just try to do better in the future when purchasing clothes.
No, but as a general rule, for all of your clothing, wash in cold, and know that you don’t have to wash after every single wear. We hang our clothes out to dry, instead of a machine dryer. Your clothes will last much longer that way.
Do your research into the companies you currently support. Find out their backstory on production. You can also head over to a wonderful resource, The Good Trade, which lists tons of sustainable and slow fashion brands.