Fast Fashion vs. Slow Fashion: Time to Think Sustainably
The beginning of the XXI century has given rise to the concept of fast fashion. From 2000 to 2014, the number of produced clothes has doubled. Consumers became addicted to shopping, as soon as they were given the opportunity to constantly refresh their looks while not spending much. As a result, nowadays, people buy 400% more clothes compared to just two decades ago. Before fashion followed cycles followed the seasons of nature (Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter), but now there can be even 50 collections per year. For example, Zara offers a new collection every 2 weeks, while H&M refreshes them weekly.
Let’s take a closer look at both concepts of fashion consumption, and what can be done with this.
What’s Wrong with Fast Fashion?
Rapid production of clothes due to the rapid consumption contributes significantly to the level of global pollution. Eventually, these clothes end up being either burnt or buried in the ground. Both are unsustainable and poison the environment. According to an estimate by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a truck of textiles is dumped every second.
British scientists have proved that, on average, people throw away a mass-market thing after just 7-8 wears. Due to the low quality, it often happens that the colours get washed out or some damages cannot be repaired.
Apart from the huge consumption of water and emission of chemicals, fast fashion is also known for ill-treatment of its workers, with people in poor Asian states earning little money while exposing themselves to multiple health risks.
Can Slow Fashion Save the Planet?
Similar to slow food vs. fast food, the slow fashion movement was born to fight back the negative consequences of fast fashion and revive principles such as high quality, respect for the environment and good treatment of workers. Slow fashion garments are classic and timeless, with a big extent of artisan/handmade input.
Slow fashion promotes an ethical and sustainable approach to consuming garments, including:
buying vintage/second-hand clothes;
shopping from small local producers;
buying long-lasting clothes – regular or off-price;
making clothes at home etc.
Fast Fashion vs. Slow Fashion
Slow fashion, unlike fast fashion, focuses on quality manufacturing and reaching the maximum lifespan of a garment. Generally, it uses natural fibres, which are often biodegradable, and comes at a price that creates decent work conditions for the workers.
Slow fashion represents the true nature of fashion, with a few seasons matching those of the calendar year. Fast fashion, on the contrary, represents a low-quality reap-off of the authentic items, aimed at satisfying the consumeristic needs of the mass market.
What Can Be Done?
The first rule is to consume consciously: buy less, trade clothes with friends and invest in quality that lasts (think of Cucinelli’s cashmere sweaters that are timeless!).
It is also recommended to check online if the company is an ethical producer (whether it respects its employees and uses organic materials). Do you remember Nike’s running shoes made from ocean plastic? That’s a great example of an ethical company. Or Patagonia, who give their customers a lifelong guarantee on their clothing, to encourage them to wear them for decades and pass to future generations.
Another solution could be second-hand clothing, which offers a good balance between quality and price, and at the same time prolongs a clothing item’s lifecycle.
Finally, to enjoy the best quality and longevity of clothes, one can also consider off-price last-year collections of “slow fashion” brands, which are sold out with a discount of up to 95%.
At Take Off Ltd, we specialize in selling stock clothing of Italian and European fashion brands, thus striving to bring the off-price sector in masses and make the industry more eco-friendly and sustainable.