Fast Fashion Culture: What it is & What it Means for the Planet.

Join us for our four-part blog series that will explore the origins of the fast fashion phenomenon: the problems with it and the proposed solutions within the Zero Waste movement to arrest and reverse the harm caused to the planet by unsustainable fashion.

What is fast fashion? You may have never even heard of the term before now. Yet in a culture where we live on the term “fast” for almost everything – online shopping, fast food, food delivery services – it has become a norm.

“Fast fashion” can be defined in many different ways. Here, we define it as an approach to the fashion industry that emphasizes making inexpensive designs to quickly satisfy the market – from catwalk to storefront.

You’ve heard of the fashion rules: don’t wear white after Labor Day, don’t mix prints/patterns, don’t pair black and navy and the list goes on and on. Until the mid-twentieth century, fashion was very much seasonal. It revolved around the four seasons and designers would basically tell consumers “this is what we think you want to wear, so wear it.”

Fast fashion and fashion in general has a carbon footprint similar to that of air travel and oil.

A quick history lesson gives a glimpse into the Industrial Revolution and how that became a launching pad for what we know as fashion today. By the mid-2000s, we were on the fast track to fast fashion with no signs of turning around.

Fast fashion uses trend replications and fast production combined with low quality materials to pump out inexpensive styles to the public. Fashion isn’t as exclusive as it once was, thus fast fashion has made room for itself with harmful impacts to our environment.

Fast fashion is such a rapidly producing industry. There are about 52 micro-seasons a year and some companies obtain upwards of 400 new styles in a week. Sure, we get clothing, shoes and accessories at a rapid rate, but what corners are being cut to make it happen?

Quality control is lost. Some shirts end up with an odd number of buttons. Bomber jackets are sewn together haphazardly. Bags and purses wear down after the slightest use. Lucy Siegle said it best when she said “Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying.”

Fast fashion has a carbon footprint similar to that of air travel and oil.

Where does that leave us? 

One key approach we would like to explore is to make radical sustainability top of mind for consumers. It is difficult to quickly express the urgency of the change that is needed without relevancy. It isn't enough to be sustainable. Real problems have to be solved.

This is why we feel the businesses have played a big role in shaping society the world today and will continue to play a critical role in shaping the future. At the core, businesses solve problems. People will always be the driving force behind these industries.

We believe that being the change you want to see is the first step, and the merit of quality product and experience should not be sacrificed because of the problem a product is solving. Our customers agree with this approach and the early feedback is positive.

After interviewing customers over the past 3 years, we found that there are many possibilities by educating consumers on the options. Many consumers can't imagine the concept of recycled materials until they touch it and feel it with their own hands. Slow fashion and fast fashion have to have a conversation and this will take time.  

Our intuition tells us that the first step is action. Ask why and ask often.

Up Next: Join us next week for Part 2 of our series on fast fashion and the zero waste movement as we dive into the hope that we have for the one thing that can steer us back in an eco-conscious direction: sustainability.