The fast fashion industry has been known to be one of the most polluting industries in the world; in fact, it is second to oil. In response to this, you may have heard the term ‘slow fashion’ thrown around a lot as of late. This is no coincidence; it is very ‘now’, very ‘in’ and very much relevant for our time. Big celebs – like Emma Watson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Olivia Wilde, Christy Turlington Burns and Rosario Dawson – are in fact joining the fight against fast fashion. There is a crucial need for a shift, although this movement is just one way to limit and reduce our influence on this already degrading environment and planet. To understand the need for this shift to slow fashion, we need to know what ‘fast fashion’ is first and why it has been labelled to be the second-most polluting industry in the world.
‘Fast fashion’ is a term to describe a very common phenomenon where companies take what is trending on the catwalks and recreate them in lower quality and prices, in order to sell it to the mass market a few short weeks later. The point is to very quickly and inexpensively manufacture to allow the mainstream consumer to buy current styles at a cheaper price. They’re doing it for the masses – the mainstream shoppers.
With lower quality, lower price tags and such speedy turnovers, the modern fashion industry has contributed to the sustainability challenge we are now facing. To produce these fast fashion products, the industry requires a continuous flow of natural resources such as fresh water, the fibres for the materials (like cotton plants), use of fossil fuels, and so on. These, unfortunately, contribute to worsening conditions of the environment, its ecosystems and climate change. In addition, factory workers in this industry are often mistreated and underpaid, making items for the masses who consume outfits that are worn once and thrown away. The more new stuff you buy, the more ‘old’ stuff you throw out. In the EU alone, we have 16 million tonnes of textile waste per year.
To sum up, fast fashion means reduced materials, creativity and design waste, as well as low quality and undervalued labour to give the masses cheaper price tags. Meanwhile, slow fashion means design, consideration, innovation and effort (plus love) was put into making better quality, long-lasting garments that have little (or zero) harm to the planet we love and live upon. This is why you should be a part of this shift, this change and this revolution. Slow fashion is not just a trend. It should be the new standard and here to stay.