Most fashion lovers are familiar with the term fast fashion. Although catchy and cute, the term refers to the less-than-ideal production practices that go into manufacturing trendy, inexpensive clothing items. Slow fashion, on the other hand, is the lesser-known, more sustainable option to clothing production. As a consumer, you may be wondering what the difference is between slow fashion vs fast fashion? Perhaps you’re not sure what constitutes fast fashion, or maybe you’re not even sure what slow fashion really means. We’re here to clear up the confusion and set you on the right path towards making sustainable fashion choices.
What is Fast Fashion?
The first thing to address is what we mean by fast fashion. As the name suggests, fast fashion moves quickly. It follows the trends from catwalks at Fashion Week and tries to replicate them at a rapid pace. While the clothing may be produced quickly, the quality is questionable, as are the manufacturing processes associated with fast fashion.
Mass-produced with the goal of generating major profits, fast fashion caters to consumers who demand more and expect less. This race for new styles at bottom of the barrel prices compromises quality, workplace standards, and environmental sustainability.
Low Quality Fabrics & Minimal Durability
Quality is typically the first thing to go when it comes to fast fashion. Manufacturers cut corners on cost by using cheap, unnatural materials combined with toxic chemicals and synthetic fabrics. This leads to garments that don’t last more than one season before they start to rip, tear, or fray.
The Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion
Low quality comes at a high cost, especially when it comes to environmental impact. Did you know that fast fashion is responsible for 2-8% of the entire world’s carbon emissions? Man-made fabrics like polyester and other acrylics have detrimental effects on our planet. 90% of these crude oil by-products shed microfibre plastics that never decompose. Even cotton can be problematic for the environment. Its increased demand harms the habitat and agriculture, increasingly so if the material is not 100% cotton.
The Social Dilemma of Fast Fashion
Churning out the latest styles not only hurts our planet but also the people within it. The poor treatment of workers extends to every segment of the supply chain, from farms to factory workers. Low wages, hazardous working conditions, child and slave labor, and a general lack of human rights are all common in fast fashion clothing manufacturers.
What is Slow Fashion?
Fast fashion is to speed as slow fashion is to sustainability. The opposite of fast fashion, slow fashion prioritizes conscious consumerism. The clothes are intentionally designed to last for much longer than one season. Slow fashion is the more responsible choice from a societal, environmental, and practical standpoint.
High Quality Fabrics That Last
Durability is the name of the game for slow fashion. The old adage The Tortoise and the Hare said it best: slow and steady wins the race. Instead of using inexpensive material that will end up in a landfill, slow fashion clothing manufacturers like IMBODHI use high-quality materials that are environmentally sound and sustainable, such as sustainably certified, plant-based fabrics, reclaimed fabrics, and more. IMBŌDHI, for instance, uses high-quality Lenzing™fabrics made from the pulp of certified sustainably-harvested beech trees and fast-growing eucalyptus trees. Check out our Bodhi Jumper to see the difference wearing clothing made from sustainable fabrics can make.
Engaging in slow fashion puts less of a strain on the environment by using natural materials that are sustainably grown to preserve the planet. Eco-ethical brands like IMBODHI help reduce consumption and waste by working with clothing manufacturers that prioritize long-lasting materials. We also repurpose deadstock/reclaimed fabrics by over-ordered or vintage fabrics from other warehouses. This helps divert materials from landfills and avoids sending them into the waste stream.
Fast fashion encourages overconsumption by demanding an infinite supply of finite resources. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of global wastewater; slow fashion aims to combat that by developing evergreen clothing items that are replaced on a significantly less frequent basis than their cheaper counterparts.
Socially & Ethically Responsible
As members and consumers of the fashion industry, we have a responsibility to be socially and ethically accountable. Slow fashion takes more time to produce than fast fashion and therefore yields fewer yet higher-quality pieces of clothing. Farm, factory, and industry workers are paid fair wages for better production. The focus on longevity, comfort, and durability also means that more artistic talent goes into slow fashion. There is an emphasis on creating simple, versatile pieces that will become everyday staples in one’s wardrobe. Instead of spending $35 on multiple tee shirts that end up in the trash bin once they get a hole, slow fashion teaches us to make a one-time purchase of a high-quality shirt that lasts significantly longer and feels better, too.
Fashion is meant to be fun yet forward-thinking. As conscious consumers, it is our responsibility to think towards the future and consider the ethical and environmental implications of clothing we buy. Learn more about our mission to promote sustainable clothing production when you shop at IMBODHI today.