If you walk down 5th avenue in New York City, you’ll be greeted by dozens of storefronts. From Zara and Mango to H&M and Forever21, these retailers seem to have a new window display every other week. The clothing on their racks are constantly changing week after week, which is one reason these fashion brands are considered to be “fast fashion.” Everything moves quickly in the garment supply chain with new clothes and new styles filling their stores in abundance.
But how do they manage to manufacture everything so fast?
First of all, quantity outweighs quality. They use cheaper, unsustainable materials to mass produce inexpensive clothing — and worst of all, cheap labor. Some fast fashion companies hire hundreds of people from countries overseas that get paid unfair wages in poor working conditions. Not only is this practice dangerous for the environment, but it’s dangerous for the people working on producing trendy garments at record speed. In Bangladesh, for example, some American and European companies produce garments in unsafe working conditions.
It’s become a human rights issues and an environmental issue.
There is so much waste being disposed of from their facilities and waste from people who buy the clothes and discard them once they’ve worn out. They use dyes, water, and energy. This takes away drinking water from people who need it. Textile processing with dyes on cotton fabrics causes water pollution because it involves lots of chemicals and water. The polluted water is then dumped back into rivers and other waterways. This production process disrupts biodiversity and causes water contamination for humans, too. It’s estimated that around 17 to 20% of all global water pollution comes from the dyeing of textiles, according to an article in The Guardian.
With low quality clothes, you pay low prices. But is it worth it? The lifespan of those fashion clothes is short lived. 10 million tons of used clothing end up getting sent to landfills, which release greenhouse gases and toxins that pollute the environment. So, when someone buys fast fashion clothing they’re contributing to a harmful business model and when they discard of it, they’re also contributing.
As people become more aware of how fast fashion is harming the environment, they turn to slow fashion brands.
What is slow fashion?
Slow fashion brands are different than fast fashion brands because they use (or reuse) high quality material, sustainability practices, and less waste. They use less water, less chemicals, and less and energy to leave less of a carbon footprint on the environment.
What is considered slow fashion?
Slow fashion brands are recognized in the fashion industry for their sustainable fashion practices, fair wages, eco-friendly materials, and working conditions. They might not always follow the latest fashion trends and don’t mass produce clothing like fast fashion companies, but that’s what makes slow fashion garments unique.
Everything is special and almost one of a kind since there won’t be hundreds of people wearing the same piece. They use environmentally friendly materials and humane production to ensure people, animals, and the environment are safe. Slow fashion companies encourage second-hand clothes, reusable clothes, and biodegradable clothing.
The slow fashion movement is picking up steam and many fast fashion companies are taking notice. People are calling out companies that use child labor and unfair practices. Many people are even boycotting these big name companies in favor of companies that value the environment and their employees.
Is Zara fast fashion?
Zara is basically the face of fast fashion and globally recognized as one of the biggest fast fashion brands. How do you think they can produce a high quantity of clothing in such a short amount of time at such low prices? “Fast fashion” used to be a good thing because it meant companies were adaptable to fashion trends and meet their customer’s demands. But today, we know better.
What are the consequences of fast fashion?
Fast fashion impacts humans and the environment. It leads to water pollution and emits carbon emissions, which leads to climate change and air pollution.
Fast Fashion vs Slow Fashion
The main difference between slow fashion and fast fashion is the way garments are made, where they are made, and how they are made. Slow fashion focuses on quality and lasting wear while fast fashion focuses on quantity and trends.
- By Bonnie Azoulay