What is fast fashion?

What is fast fashion and why is it bad?
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While fast fashion has been sold for decades, it only recently became a talking point – but what is fast fashion and why is it bad?

The Rana Plaza disaster of 2013 and the continuing damage to the environment brought the topic to the forefront and now consumers are demanding change.

From Boohoo, to Zara, fast fashion is wide-ranging and some brands are better at covering up their detrimental practises than others.

Here, we take a closer look at what the term actually means.

READ MORE: If Pretty Little Thing can sell clothes for 4p, how much do they pay garment workers?

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is defined as ‘inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.’

More generally, it refers to the cheap, high-street fashion brands that mass-produce clothing to replicate catwalk and seasonal trends at a low cost.

As some fast fashion brands are cheaper than others, this drums up confusion amongst consumers. Unfortunately, expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better in terms of sustainability and the ethics behind a fashion brand. Instead, we must look at the overproduction of clothing.

Why is fast fashion bad?

Fast fashion might provide us with affordable fashion, but it comes at a cost to the environment.

Fast fashion teaches consumers that they must buy more. It works under a business model that encourages shoppers to wear an item once or twice, then throw it away for something better in order to stay ‘on trend’.

However manufacturing so many new garments constantly creates huge amounts of waste. The average American is estimated to throw away 37kg of clothes each year85% of which will end up in landfill or be burned.

The fashion industry also harms the environment by polluting the oceans with microplastics, producing 10% of the world’s carbon emissions and by being the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply.

It’s also important to mention the exploitation caused by fast fashion too. The Rana Plaza disaster of 2013 saw a Bangladesh factory building collapse, killing over 1000 garment workers.

Just one day previously large cracks were discovered in the building, but employees were told to return to work despite warnings and tragically lost their lives.

Boohoo were also accused of modern slavery in 2020, after it was discovered they were paying their garment workers just £3.50 an hour at a factory in Leicester.

What are examples of fast fashion?

Examples of fast fashion outlets include Boohoo Group Plc, Zara, ASOS, Primark, Topshop and many more.

What are the positives of fast fashion?

While it’s undeniable that fast fashion harms the environment and labour workers, it offers affordable clothing to people who cannot afford to shop sustainably.

It encourages consumer spending, creates more profit for companies and gives shoppers the chance to participate in trends.

Wear Next Opinion

Wear Next believes it’s important to highlight the negative and unjust practises taking place in the fashion industry. We believe ethics and sustainability are an important talking point to bring about change and we encourage you to contact fast fashion brands to demand this.

However we understand that sustainable fashion isn’t accessible for every body due to various factors, such as budget and the ability to find confidence-boosting clothes that fit. We will continue to offer you fashion inspiration and guidance to suit every body and budget, while also highlighting the unjust systems at play in the fashion industry.

READ MORE: 6 sustainable fashion brands who make beautiful clothes to order

READ MORE: Writer and Editor Leah Cowan gives us a lesson in mindful fashion

For fashion advice and general chit-chat, join our Facebook group What To Wear Next.

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