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Fast Fashion VS Slow Fashion

Fast Fashion Vs. Slow (Luxury) Fashion
Fast Fashion VS Slow Fashion

You may have noticed that Slow Fashion and Fast Fashion are expressions used increasingly often in the retail industry. What do these two terms mean? And why is the distinction between both concepts now more than ever necessary?

As its terminology indicates Fast Fashion and Slow Fashion are conceptions of fashion that relate differently to time.


Fast Fashion believes that trends in retail change frequently and that, accordingly, collections in stores should reflect these changes in trends.

Some Fast Fashion retailers have even made the case that they have democratized the fashion experience – no longer reserved for the elite, fashion is available and accessible to all. Thanks to Fast Fashion, everyone can afford to wear the latest trends, and to regularly experience the short-lived high of a new fashion purchase and the pleasure of wearing something new.


Thus, Fast Fashion relies primarily on low prices: so everyone can indulge frequently in new trends. It relies secondly on rapid turnovers: apparels evolve from the design stage to the retail floor in only a matter of weeks.

The traditional fashion seasons followed the annual cycle of summer, autumn, winter and spring but in fast fashion cycles have compressed into shorter periods of 4–6 weeks and in some cases less than this.

To produce large quantities rapidly and at a low price, Fast Fashion’s supply costs must be kept low and use cheap materials (eg: petroleum based synthetic materials, rayon, nylon, copper, chromium), cheap manufacturing processes (heavy machinery, chemical dyeing processes), and of course cheap labor costs.

Outsourcing production to developing countries with low minimum wages (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India for example) is an inevitable step in Fast Fashion production. Sometimes these countries do not respect labor human rights. The result is a disposable $9 shirt you can buy at Zara that won’t survive 5 rounds of laundry.

“In short: Fast Fashion stands for quantity over quality”

What is Slow fashion then? Another trend? Clothing reserved exclusively to the wealthy? An antagonist to Fast Fashion? A political movement?


In some respects one might say that Slow Fashion is technically the opposite of Fast Fashion as more money, resources, and time are put into the confection of one single garment. Unlike the $1.44 trillion dollar industry that is Fast Fashion, Slow Fashion consists of small-owned businesses that produce generally locally on a slower scale. The result is often higher prices.


Ideologically, Slow Fashion is less preoccupied with keeping up with trends than with the quality and sustainability of what it produces. Sustainability is a principle applied both to how it produces garments (in a way respectful of the environment and human rights) and what it produces (garments of quality that last). Slow fashion falls right in line with minimalism in that it will encourage the consumer to own ten essentials that last instead of 1000 disposables.


Slow Fashion demands us to slow down consumption to decrease fashion production and raw material depletion to allow the earth’s regenerative capabilities to take place.


Slow Fashion is as much technical as it is ideological for it represents what is “eco”, “ethical” and “green” in one unified practice and philosophy. Carl Honoré, author of “In Praise of Slowness”, argues that the ‘slow approach’ intervenes as a revolutionary process in the contemporary world because it encourages taking time to ensure quality production, to give value to the product, and contemplate the connection with the environment.

If you want to save the environment from degradation then you should purchase sustainable clothes. You can also opt for buying pre-loved clothes from a thrift shop in Lebanon, TN.

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Is Fast Fashion Destroying The Environment?

How 'Fast Fashion' is destroying the environment. | All & About | Your  lifestyle guide in Qatar
Is Fast Fashion Destroying The Environment?

Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all annual global carbon emissions? That is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined! (World Bank Group, 2019)  

What is fast fashion?

So, perhaps you’ve heard of the phrase ‘fast fashion’ before, but what does it actually mean? Fast fashion is used to describe cheap clothing produced by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Some well-known brands include the likes of H&M, Zara and Uniqlo.

Fashion retailers intentionally create new items of clothing and trends every few weeks, in hopes to persuade customers that they must ‘stay on trend’ by regularly purchasing new items of clothing. Since the clothing is usually of low quality and relatively inexpensive, customers will often find that they will return to stores to buy new items of clothing as it is cheaper than repairing old garments. 

The effects of fast fashion

Many of us may believe that shopping for clothes (especially cheap and on trend clothes!) is harmless and maybe even fun, but what are effects of fast fashion on the environment? How it is possible for retailers to sell stock so cheaply whilst still making a profit? 

Environmental impacts

In reality, many toxic chemicals are used to create the vibrant colours, prints and patterns that appear on fast fashion garments. These chemicals are often dumped into nearby rivers and streams by unregulated factories, polluting the water and air as well as harming the health of the workers that produce the garments. 

In addition to this, polyester garments contain microfibres that are unable to biodegrade. This means that when they are washed in domestic washing machines, the microfibres shed and pass through our waterways which eventually lead to our oceans. This adds to the increasing levels of plastic in our oceans and present a large threat to aquatic life.

Furthermore, the low quality of fast fashion garments along with the fast trends, mean that clothes are being thrown away at an unprecedented rate. In Britain, more than 300,000 tons of clothes end up in a landfill. Landfill sites produce greenhouse gases that harm the environment and contribute to global warming.

Humanitarian impacts

In order to promote such low prices, cheap labour is often sourced from sweatshops. These are factories that employ workers for extremely low wages for long hours, often in poor conditions. For example, in Bangladesh, the majority of garment workers earn little more than the minimum wage and far below what is considered a living wage. Many are also forced to work 14-16 hour days, 7 days a week in hazardous conditions. Since 1990, more than 400 workers have died and several thousand more have been wounded in 50 major factory fires. Sexual harassment and discrimination are also widespread and many female workers have reported that the right to maternity leave is not upheld by employers.

What can we do to help? 

If you would like to reduce your fast fashion consumption, here are some top tips on how to get started:

  1. Buy from ethical and sustainable brands.
  2. Consume secondhand clothing from thrift stores such as thrift stores in Lebanon, TN or online marketplaces (such as Depop). You can even swap clothes with friends and family!
  3. DIY or upcycle old clothes. You can get creative with this by cutting, sewing, and even knitting fabrics!
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WHAT’S SO WRONG WITH FAST FASHION?

Fast fashion, loose ethics: the real cost of cheap clothing
WHAT’S SO WRONG WITH FAST FASHION?

Let’s be clear right from the very start that is not in any way a judgement of you if you buy fast fashion because money is tight.
Cheap clothes can be a lifeline and this post is NOT aimed at you. Remember that fast fashion is a part of a broken system – but even if you have to buy it/have bought it before, just because it was produced in the fast fashion system, doesn’t mean you have to treat it as fast fashion. Look after it, wear it many, many times, and don’t be in a rush to replace it.)

But there will be people who can afford to shop elsewhere, who can afford to make more ethical choices, but who choose not to. If that’s you, then this post IS for you.
And please know that it comes from a place of compassion, concern for people and planet, and from a desire to spread the word about some of negative impacts fast fashion has on the environment and the people who make our clothes.

It’s no judgement on you if you didn’t know all the stats and figures I’m going to share. If you hadn’t reached the point yet where you’ve joined the dots between your choices and people and planet.
We can’t change what we don’t know.

I didn’t know until we spent out year buying nothing new. If you’d asked me before that point how my clothes were made, I would have said in a factory. I assumed it was all automated and done by machine.
If you’d asked me what my clothes were made from I would have said cotton, and assumed that was ok because it’s a plant, and therefore natural.

But during that year (and since), I’ve learned that:

  • The majority of our clothes are made by people, usually women (80% of garment workers are women) who are sat in often poorly lit factories in unsafe conditions, sewing the same seam on the same garments, day in, day out, hour after hour. For up to 18 hours a day. For far less than the living wage they need to be able to feed their family.
  • Some garment workers are children. Supply chains for the fast fashion brands are so complex and are sub-contracted so many times, that most of them wouldn’t know if there was child labor being used to make their garments.
  • Many of our modern clothes (especially fast fashion) are made from synthetic (oil based) fabrics. The oil needs to stay in the ground.
  • It takes over 2000L of water to make one t-shirt -that’s the same amount of water we drink in 3 years
  • All of the above impacts on garment workers and the planet are compounded by the speed with which we in the developed world consume fashion.
  • Clothing production doubled between 2002 and 2015
  • Globally we consume 80 billion pieces of clothing every year
  • We have enough clothing on the planet right now to clothe the next 6 generations of the human race (this is via Patrick Grant from Great British Sewing Bee)


I don’t think any of us wants that. But the problem is that’s not what we’re thinking about when we spot a cheap t-shirt, or we’re feeling a hacked off with lockdown and want things to feel more normal again and hit the shops.

The system is broken. And that’s not our fault. But one thing we can do (if we can afford to) is decide to step out of that very unjust, unfair, damaging system by making some different choices. Some more thoughtful choices.

Is your convenience and desire for a new cheap t-shirt, more important than the safety of garment workers (possibly children) and the future we’re creating for our kids?
That sounds very deep, a bit worthy, and not very (ish) but it is the reality we find ourselves in. It’s a hugely uncomfortable truth. And if we CAN afford to make different choices, we owe it people and planet to do so.

We can buy secondhand clothes to reduce the number of clothes that end up in the landfills every year. You can visit one of the thrift stores in Lebanon, TN if you want to shop for pre-love clothes.

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The Impact Of Fast Fashion And 7 Ways To Avoid It

Fast fashion: Polyester production has doubled since 2000, with huge  climate implications
The Impact Of Fast Fashion And 7 Ways To Avoid It

With deforestation, water scarcity, and global warming altering the environment and threatening the lives of millions of species—humans included—we need to start thinking of all how our consumption contributes to climate change.

That means it’s no longer enough just to turn the lights off when you’re not using them, or to use public transport now and then.

Sure, these are essential things to bear in mind, but if we want to curb global warming, we need to change the way we think of consumption.

One of the most publicized ways in which consumers contribute to climate change is through fast fashion.

According to studies by the World Bank, the fashion industry consumes as much as 93 billion cubic meters of water, dumps half a million plastic fibers in the ocean and contributes to 10% of carbon emissions every year.

If we carry on with our current model of fashion retail, that number will surge over the next ten years, resulting in an entirely unsustainable impact on our planet.

Origins Of Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is a term that you’ve probably heard if you’ve heard anything about the environmental impact of the fashion industry. In a nutshell, fast fashion is the term applied to the unsustainable and wasteful methods currently employed by fashion brands worldwide. Although now we see it this way, it wasn’t always the case.

For decades, clothing retail was all about custom-made and tailored clothes, dominated by high-class fashion designers and featuring a high price tag. But in the 1960s, clothing manufacturers began taking advantage of mechanized and industrialized clothes making, and over the coming decades, fast fashion became a popular alternative to bespoke and designer clothes.

By using cheaper materials, outsourced international labor, and machine-led industrial manufacturing, clothing brands could now produce many thousands of one item for a hugely reduced cost. Meaning manufacturers could sell these items on high streets around the world for a fraction of the price of big designer labels.

In the late 70s and 80s, the fast fashion brands we know today were born in Europe. H&M, the oldest fast fashion brand still in existence, opened up in Sweden in 1974 then the UK in 1976, the same year Zara opened in Spain.

It would be a few decades before branches opened in the States—1990 for Zara, the 2000s for H&M—and by that point, the brands were proud of the label fast fashion, boasting about how it took only 15 days to get a garment from designer to shop floor.

We often praise fast fashion for democratizing the fashion industry. Before the 1960s, designer clothing was only available to the rich, those who could afford to pay for tailored clothes, anyone who couldn’t rely on handmade or hand-me-down garments.

Fast fashion meant that you could look good no matter where you are or what your socio-economic background.

How Consumers Treat Fast Fashion

But the industry is not entirely to blame: we consumers have an environmental impact too. Beyond the effects of the production of fast fashion, there is also an impact generated by consumers. 

Consumers wear clothes for significantly less time and throwing away considerably more clothes than ever before. This waste is partly due to the poor quality of some fast fashion garments that don’t stand the test of time as older or bespoke items might, but it’s also a testament to how we relate to fashion. Clothes are cheaper and easier to get than ever, so they’re more expendable than ever.

The McKinsey Institute estimates that, while we buy 60% more clothes than previous generations, we throw them away at a far higher rate, generating a massive amount of personal clothing waste.

So fast fashion is not just a corporate failing. There is a personal responsibility: with each fast fashion purchase we make and throw away, we’re contributing to fueling a global planet-killing, ocean-polluting, human-abusing machine. 

7 Ways to Break Fast Fashion Habits

Thankfully, as we are more aware than ever of the impact of the fashion industry, we are more prepared than ever to reduce it. Here are a few things you can do to break your fast fashion habits and shop sustainably.

Buy less

We buying less is the most significant change we can make to reduce our clothing carbon footprint. The best way to shop sustainably is not to shop at all unless necessary. Think about each purchase you make and see if it’s worth the human and environmental impact.

Wear more

The other side of the coin of buying less is getting more wear out of the clothes you already have. Try and love the clothes you have and don’t give in to relentless fashion cycles. Learn how to mend small tears, de-bobble sweaters, or repurpose ill-fitting garments to give them new life and avoid having to replace them.

Be thrifty

If your clothes are unsalvagable and you need to buy more, first try thrift and charity stores to get your clothes second hand. You can visit a thrift store in Panama City Beach, FL to thrift shop. Not only will you be reducing your impact on the environment, but you could also be helping out a good cause, all while saving some cash.

If you’re feeling crafty, you can alter thrift store buys to make unique garments that will be more personal than an off-the-rack item could ever be.

Rent and borrow

There are ways to wear new clothes without contributing to fast fashion waste. If you’re looking for new duds for a fancy event, consider renting or borrowing them rather than buying them outright.

Websites like MyWardrobeHQ or Rent The Runway offer ways to share, rent, and borrow clothes, meaning you can expand your wardrobe without the guilt.

Support sustainable

If you have to buy new clothes, try only to support businesses that have committed to being sustainable in their manufacturing.

Go with smaller brands or local producers to reduce the miles your garments have to travel to get to you. If you do go with a major label, read up to see which have made commitments to reduce their environmental impact (and see what they’ve done already).

Read your labels

If you were allergic to something, you’d read product labels all the time, right? Well, consider when you’re clothes shopping that you’re allergic to unsustainable materials.

Whenever you’re buying new clothing, check the label to make sure you know what you’re buying.

Wash smart

Another way in which you can reduce the impact of your clothes is by thinking about how you wash them.

Every wash has the potential to release thousands of synthetic fibers into the environment, so ask yourself whether you need to wash a garment right after you’ve worn it once.

When you do wash, stick to a low temperature and wash clothes inside out to reduce energy and promote garment longevity.

The Takeaway

Fast fashion has a significant impact on communities and the environment, but it’s not only the clothing brands that are to blame. Every one of us has a responsibility to live sustainably; however, we can, and that starts with how we think about clothes.

Don’t think of this as a restriction or a punishment for living unsustainably. This behavior is an opportunity to give back to an Earth that has given you everything you’ve ever enjoyed in life.

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The negatives of fast fashion & 3 ways to reduce your impact

Fast Fashion: The Ugly Truth. Our desire to look good is killing the… | by  Jensen Li | Age of Awareness | Medium
The negatives of fast fashion & 3 ways to reduce your impact

In the past two decades, the fashion industry began to revolve around the fast fashion concept – the quick rotation of cheap garments imported from developing countries with few labor laws and low minimum wage. While this concept has made fashion more profitable for fast fashion company CEOs, because fast fashion encourages overconsumption and impulse shopping, it has created many environmental and ethical issues in our world.


In this article, I’ll dive deep into what these issues are, how is fast fashion and the current fashion industry causing them and how they can be resolved with sustainable fashion practices.

The environmental impacts of the fashion industry

The environmental impacts of fast fashion – where do I start? There are many different serious issues that need to be tackled.

Did you know that the fashion industry accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gasses produced by human activity? This isn’t just because large amounts of fossil fuels are burned to ship products from sweatshops to the west, but also because the countries where most fast fashion garments are made rely mainly on fossil fuels for energy production.

Aside from climate change, fast fashion is also a threat to our water supply. It takes large amounts of water to cultivate conventional cotton, putting a strain on the precious resource. As if that wasn’t enough, fast fashion is also a significant water polluter. Often, cotton farms use large amounts of pesticides to increase yield and sweatshops rely on nasty chemicals to dye and finish garments. All of these are then washed into rivers, poisoning many people’s source of water.

However, cotton isn’t the only fabric that’s to blame – synthetic materials have been gaining popularity with fast fashion brands, because of their low cost. However, what’s often forgotten is that these fabrics are essentially plastic, and they release plastic particles into wastewater anytime they are washed.

Fast fashions ethical issues

From an ethical standpoint, fast fashion is also highly problematic. It outsources production into developing countries, where it underpays its workers and forces them to work in terrible conditions.

These workers are paid as little as 3 cents per hour, often having to work for 100+ hours per week to satisfy our demand for fast fashion. All this happens in factories which are often structurally unsafe, with the threat of factory fires or building collapses. Even though the labor laws are typically very limited in developing countries, sweatshops often go as far as to break these already oppressive standards.

Encouraging overconsumption and other shady practices

There is one moral issue related to the spread of fast fashion – it encourages us to buy more than we need and spend money on an impulse. In an age where conscious shopping is more important than ever before, fast fashion uses a variety of sales tactics which directly contradict and undermine the importance of sustainable development.

Another shady practice you’ll want to watch out for is greenwashing. Many fast fashion companies wish to appeal to the more environmentally conscious of us without actually doing any work to become more sustainable. Therefore, they make unsubstantiated claims about sustainability. Thankfully, they are quite easy to see through with enough research – make sure you look up any claim about environmental benefits and search for proof.

What are the sustainable fashion options?

How can we stop supporting the environmentally and ethically insufficient fast fashion and find a more sustainable alternative? Sustainable fashion isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing, there are many different ways to pursue it – here are 3 of our favorites

1.      Support sustainable fashion brands

Instead of buying your clothes from a fast fashion brand, support sustainable fashion labels which are working to make their clothes as eco-friendly and ethical as possible. They use natural materials, implement water conservation practices, pay their employees fair wages, provide a safe work environment, and more.

A sustainable fashion garment may cost more upfront, but it will end up saving you money in the long run because it will last you for years.

2.      Wash your clothes sustainably

Sustainable fashion isn’t just about buying sustainable clothing – it’s also about making sure the clothes that you already have remain in good shape and that the cleaning process doesn’t have a negative environmental impact.

Opt for sustainable laundry detergent options, such as the laundry detergent sheets or the laundry soap bar and switch to natural wool dryer balls – or you can skip the dryer altogether and air-dry your laundry.

3.      Shop second hand

A great way to save money while supporting sustainable fashion and buying eco-friendly clothing is to shop second-hand. This way, you’re preventing clothing from ending up in a landfill and giving it a second life! You can buy pre-loved clothes from a thrift store in Panama City Beach, FL. You can find clothes in a good quality there.

While some clothing and fabrics can be composted, it’s always best to reuse them in their original form when possible.