Is fast fashion becoming a problem?

Sep 22, 2021

Fast fashion: a term used within the fashion industry to describe the fast-moving, mass production of poor-quality clothing chasing the latest fashion trends. From a consumer’s point of view, these clothes are very attractive. They are cheap, trendy, and disposable, making impulse buying easy and affordable.

Fast fashion is usually based on trends present at Spring and Autumn fashion weeks or on what certain celebrities are seen wearing. Think certain designer dresses that a celebrity such as Rihanna or Selena Gomez is wearing—usually multiple retail stores will have a variant of this dress in stores within days.

The consequence of fast fashion
Even though this situation is very appealing for consumers, the effects of fast fashion are under a lot of criticism. Fast fashion has a greater negative impact on the climate than air and sea travel combined, accounting for 10% of all carbon emissions in the world.  It is the second-largest polluting industry behind oil corporations. Even as rapidly as designs move from the fashion runway to retail stores, they end up in the bin even quicker—fast fashion companies put out around 150 billion clothing items on a yearly basis.

Besides that, most of the chemicals used to make these “bargain” items end up in landfills and back in the environment after being thrown away. Over 500,000 tons of microfibres and tiny pieces of non-biodegradable materials end up in our oceans every year.

The slow fashion movement
What’s the response to fast fashion? The slow fashion movement. Stressing the negative impacts of fast fashion, with its low-quality reproductions of high-quality fashion pieces, slow fashion is an approach to clothing production which takes the entire supply chain into account in its effort to respect people, animals, and the environment. This of course means spending more time on the design process, ensuring that each piece is quality-made.

More and more sustainable clothing brands are emerging to counter fast fashion. Upcycled, vintage, or re-used clothing – as well as the growing conscience of consumers – are quickly coming to the forefront.  Think websites like Depop that make fashion more diverse and less wasteful by showcasing “preloved” and vintage items.