It’s no secret that the fashion industry takes a toll on the environment, and as the production of apparel continues to rise so do its negative environmental and social impacts. Insert the slow fashion movement – one of the ways the world is changing to fight climate change. Slow fashion encourages sustainable and eco-friendly practices, slower production timelines and ethical working conditions – a very different approach than fast fashion. So, what are the main differences between fast fashion and slow fashion? And more importantly, how can shopping slow fashion brands help make a difference?
Fast fashion is a term used by retailers and brands to describe a commonly used business model – the cheap, mass-production of clothes that imitate the newest styles and trends fueled by high-end designers. This allows brands, like H&M, Zara, TopShop, Forever21 and more, to recreate the trendy looks consumers want at a lower quality and price point. Due to frequently changing trends, fast fashion brands and manufacturers are constantly trying to push out new products to keep up with consumer demand. This vicious cycle leads to overproduction, negative impacts on the environment, and often inhumane working conditions.
With such large quantities of clothing being produced at rapid speeds, fast fashion is a big contributor to the fact that the fashion industry as a whole produces nearly four billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Fast fashion also utilizes poor agriculture practices and toxic chemicals, which can enter the environment during the manufacturing process.The clothing is often created with man-made fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylics that emit significant amounts C02 during production. These materials also shed microfiber plastics, which can drain out into water sources during production and when being washed. The short production cycle also comes at the expense of workers. They are often forced to work in poor working conditions that don’t follow health and safety protocols while not receiving fair wages.
Slow fashion is an environmentally, sustainable and socially conscious approach to consumption and production. Author and design activist Kate Fletcher coined the term slow fashion in 2007, urging brands to slow down and consider the cost of choosing quantity over quality.
Slow fashion brands use higher quality and natural materials that are meant to last a long time unlike fast fashion clothes that are frequently thrown out due to poor quality – three out of five fast fashion garments end up in a landfill within a year of purchase. The natural materials used are sustainably grown free from chemicals, which is better for the environment and removes concerns around water pollution during the manufacturing process.
Because there is no rush to scale quickly or appeal to the masses, slow fashion utilizes slow production and small batch orders that allows for full control over the supply chain process, which is beneficial for both the environment and workers. Slower production and small batch orders allows for safer working conditions. In fact, slow fashion prioritizes social responsibility. Brands take steps to ensure the lives of workers on the farms and in the factories are treated fairly by implementing safe workplace practices and conditions and providing fair wages. The slower production timeline also means brands tend to have fewer collections released per year.
Ivy Marie is proud to be a part of the slow fashion movement and being a part of the solution. Please read more about our sustainable practices here.