What is "fast fashion"? Well, defined as "inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends", fast fashion is a phenomenon that has driven a stake into both the fashion industry and consumer shopping habits. If left unchecked, fast fashion will continue to have detrimental effects to the earth via widespread water pollution, vast exploitation of workers, animal harm, and the reinforcement of wasteful consumer habits.
Thus, now that we know the problem, what can we do to stop it? It seems like a very "macro" problem, right? How can we as individual consumers even begin to tackle such a widespread problem? We'll tell you how.
The first step you can take to decelerate fast fashion is to avoid the following three brands, and to opt for these three sustainability-conscious brands instead listed after.
H&M is technically the oldest of the fast fashion brands, and is credited with inventing the concept of “fast fashion”. Behind the next brand on this list, they are the second largest retailer in the world, selling over three billion garments a year. They shelf new clothes at an unbelievable rate, and are a huge contributor to the fast fashion epidemic.
As the largest retailer in the world, Zara is notorious for being a fast fashion juggernaut. Zara manufactures 500 new designs each week and over 450 million new items per year. Zara also provides infamously inhumane working conditions in their factories, paralleling sweatshop conditions. Skip out on Zara next time you see it.
AVOID: Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters is an enormous retailer known for creating and launching multiple fashion collections each year, making them a fast fashion brand. Urban Outfitters is very discreet on their supply chain specifics, and even stopped paying their garment factories in recent years. Avoid Urban Outfitters if you want to help trend toward sustainable fashion.
Now, for some better/more sustainable alternatives:
CHNGE is a clothing company that uses eco-friendly materials like Global Organic Textile Standard cotton, and is overall very inclusive and affordable. Their clothing is made in factories in India that have “strong foundations in sustainability, environmental awareness, and ethical practices”. Over 98% of water used during the dying process is recycled, and they have a program in place to offset CO2 emissions, which means that their clothing is 100% carbon neutral. CHNGE has also protected 265,935 trees through their offset program, which is yet another example of how they go above and beyond for the environment.
Quince is one of the most affordable sustainable brands out there today. They focus on creating sustainable and ethical clothing at a variety of price points, including t-shirts starting at $15. Quince’s three main values are quality, sustainability, and affordability. They use eco-friendly materials in both clothes and packaging, and are dedicated to transparency on all fronts of their business.
Fordays was founded on the belief that the fashion system is broken. Their goal is to treat a zero waste system in fashion that is available to everyone. They are an innovator of circular fashion which means that every piece they make is 100 percent recyclable and made with zero waste principles. As a consumer you can return your clothes to them once you’re done and earn money back for the items.