The term Fast Fashion was first used by the New York Times in the 1990s describing the industry’s key advocator Zara’s ambitions to get clothing from the design stage to stores within 15 days. At first glance, this appears as a movement that inspires innovation and a great opportunity for fashion. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, as for fashion to be fast, sacrifices must be made. Clothing is produced quickly, cheaply, and conveniently for consumers to keep up with current trends, but is this okay?
Fast fashion is a cost-effective industry, therefore, many of the materials used to produce clothing are cheap. Cheap materials are what enable the fast fashion industry to be inexpensive to its consumers. However, the implications of cheap materials are not just limited to their cost. Textiles used are usually low quality, unethical, and environmentally damaging.
The fast production of clothing in the fashion industry is contributing to increasing global concern. The Ellen Macarthur Foundation has estimated that with the fast fashion industry’s continuous growth it is estimated by 2050 that around 2 million tons of microfibers will be released into the ocean. Moreover, the textile industry share of the carbon budget will also jump from 2% in 2015 to 26% by 2050. To add to this, matters aren’t made better through the choice of materials selected. It is estimated that over 60% of the fabrics found in fashion are synthetics. Products in this industry are often designed with synthetic materials, as alternative materials with higher durability are more expensive and not recognized as important in an industry where disposal of last seasons’ fashion is encouraged. However, it is not just the durability of a product which is causing concerns in the industry, but more the effects of the materials used. Synthetic materials include most commonly: polyester, nylon, and acrylic all of which are non-biodegradable materials. To add to this, these materials contribute massively to the statistics Ellen MacArthur presents through high energy use and high shedding qualities meaning more microfibers entering the oceans.
The Rise of a Slow Fashion World:
Through increased awareness of fashion’s harmful environmental effects, slow fashion was born. Slow fashion is a movement in the industry that has shifted its focus away from mass sales and instead considers high-quality sustainable clothing. Slow fashion does not compete to produce what your favorite celebrity was wearing last week but instead produces clothing unique to you which although may have a higher price tag, will be built to last you longer than the typical fast fashion product.