According to Merriam Webster, fast fashion is defined as an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers. Defined by us as that b*tch.
Fast fashion industries pump out trendy clothing made from low-quality materials to keep it inexpensive for the consumer. Although that $5 T-shirt might seem like a steal, it’s actually a warning sign. The results of the fast fashion industry harmfully impacts the environment, humanity, and our bank account. Fast fashion clothing is designed to bring you back for more. In my fast fashion days, I remember buying a pair of leggings for $7. They had holes in them after one wash. This also happened with the cute $5 T-shirts. After two washes, they were ready to be used as rags. You end up spending a lot more money by frequently replacing fast fashion items. But when you’re unaware of the affects, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Especially when the next time you go shopping, there are brand new styles.
In fast fashion, it’s common for new products to be released multiple times a week to stay on-trend. Never mind seasonal changes, we’re talking weekly changes. Sorry pal, those cute shorts you bought last month are already out of style. It’s impossible to keep up and that’s the game. Although the cheap prices make you feel like a queen who can strut new stuff weekly, it’s a vicious cycle that leaves you back for more.
“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying.”— Lucy Siegle
One of the biggest reasons that these clothes are so cheap is because the people making the clothes are underpaid and pushed to inhumane limits. They work long hours (we’re talking 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week), lack basic resources, and are exposed to harmful toxins. Many fast fashion garment employees are trapped in their jobs because they live in poverty. Worker’s rights doesn’t exist in most third world countries. Further down the supply chain are cotton farmers who are also working long hours with toxic chemicals to boost their crop production to keep up with the demand for more cotton. The exposure to these chemicals can lead to a higher risk of infertility, heart attacks, and cancer. Not to mention the fact that child labour also plays a part in the fast fashion industry.
It’s too high a price. Human lives for cheap clothes? No more. Please.
Fashion is one of the worst polluting industries in the world. Its carbon footprint is racing alongside air-travel, oil, and coal. Because of the use of cheap, toxic, textile dyes, fast fashion is the second-largest polluter of clean water. The constant speed and demand raises other environmental concerns like the stress caused from land clearing and the damage done to soil quality.
A huge amount of waste is created because garments are thrown out almost as fast as their made. Each year the average person throws away 37 kilograms of clothing. Only a very small percentage of clothing can properly be recycled. Some items are shredded and used for new clothing, rags, or furniture stuffing. A lot is sent overseas and the majority lands in a landfill.
Fast fashion creates a disposable mindset. Cheap prices make it too easy to view clothing as disposable. Tossing it in the trash doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the impact on the environment is huge. Clothing in the landfills takes over 200 years to decompose, emitting methane in the process. It’s crazy to think that all the clothing in the world has a longer lifespan than we do.
Alright, deep breath. Let’s slow down.
Slow fashion takes into mind the entire affect of the clothe-making process. Awareness is woven into the stitches of what slow fashion is, making way for better quality clothing. It’s also a lifestyle choice to be more conscious and mindful, go with timeless over trendy, and not view clothing as disposable.
“Slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems.”—Kate Fletcher
Slow fashion is what we need right now—a healthier alternative to clothing, because (let’s be honest) not all of us are ready to be nudists. 😉
Slow fashion is typically made by people who are paid fairly and treated fairly. When clothing is made and bought in Canada the carbon footprint goes down and the people who made it are paid a fair wage. It can be confusing about what is slow fashion, ethical fashion, or sustainable fashion.
Ethical fashion is concerned with human and animal rights. It ensures healthy working conditions, fair wages, fair treatment, and no child labour.
Sustainable fashion is concerned with the environment. It uses more sustainable fibres and materials, limits the use of harmful chemicals, reduces water usage, and chooses to take the lower impact route.
Slow fashion can be slow and ethical, but not use sustainable resources. (Think a shirt made with rayon or polyester, but is made in Canada.) Slow fashion can be slow, ethical, and sustainable. And that’s when we do a dance, in our fairly made, sustainable pants.
A mentality shift is caused when we as consumers are aware of the impact our clothing has. Instead of rummaging through piles of the latest cheap fashion finds, we focus on quality over quantity, simplifying our wardrobes to hold what is practical and needed for our day-to-day lifestyles.
When shopping for clothing, look for transparency. (And I’m not talking about see-through clothing! But I mean, you do you.) Because slow fashion is getting more attention, some brands are playing on the terms “sustainable” and “ethical” without actually being sustainable and ethical. Companies that have their process out in the open and talk about what they’re doing behind the scenes give a legit nod to taking the slow approach. (Curious about our process? Check out Our Details.)
We at Franc are happy to be partners with you as we change the way we look at clothing, one slowly made cozy basic at a time.
“Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.” Vivienne Westwood
Written By Jade Paxton for FRANC