• Maryam

does fast fashion need to slow down?

Fast Fashion vs Sustainable Fashion

When you wear a dress that fits you well, you feel level of confidence in it. It transforms you, wrapping you up in protective armour, ready to face the world while looking your best. Nothing beats that feeling, huh? Would you care where it was from? Would you still purchase it if the brand held values you didn’t agree with?

Today, as consumers, we are more knowledgeable than ever. We are faced with facts that our climate is changing and that pollution from manufacturing plants is a factor. Many of us do our part and recycle our own waste, making conscious decisions to choose greener alternatives when we can. When the greener alternative is on par in price, quality and availability, it’s an easy choice. It can be as simple as reaching for a paper straw instead of a plastic one or, in the instance of fashion, reducing our waste by purchasing less or supporting sustainable brands.

As a fashion lover, I live to shop, buying new outfits and trying different looks. I find myself endlessly searching for something new, scrolling through instagram fashion influencers and being directed to websites through their tagged items. Most items tend to be ones that come from fast fashion retailers.

Fast fashion is clothing that is mass-produced quickly to capitalise on trends and reach the customer quickly. Some people, when they hear the term fast fashion, instantly think of online brands like FashionNova or Missguided, making assumptions that the clothing is inexpensive and relatively low quality. But before you start yelling for them to be burned at the stake, take this in - Zara follows the same business model. Spanish retailer Zara reached wild success when they recognised a gap in the market to shorten the time between runway and shop floor. Bringing the consumer closer to current fashion trends, by selling the items while they were still hot. Online fashion brands like Missguided took this and amplified it, they cut out the brick and mortar store and provided a wide selection of clothing online, at very affordable prices.

With the rise of social media, young women portray the idea of limitless wardrobes and the perception of single use outfits. Originally driven by the ultra wealthy, fast fashion brands have used instagram as a platform to equip the regular girl with fashion that can be seen on celebrities just days earlier. Allowing her the affordability to own her own fickle closet once only obtainable by celebrities, what’s not to love? For one, the increasing stress on the environment, as well as the short shelf life of the clothes.

With fast fashion booming, the topic of sustainability is impacting the fashion industry as a whole. As a result, Zara, like many other big fashion retailers, has heard the call to adapt their supply chain and has publicly committed to implementing more sustainable practices in the future.

Armed with the knowledge that the fashion industry does contribute to pollution and waste, I find myself being impressed by retailers who claim to be sustainable. Sustainable fashion is a movement to produce clothing that is both ecologically friendly and takes into account socio-economic aspects. Canadian retailer Aritzia is an example of a retailer that strives to be sustainable, taking further steps to reduce their ecological footprint and, in partnership with international regulatory bodies, improve the labour conditions of their vendors. However, although they provide a wide selection of on-trend fashionable clothing with superior tailoring and materials, they are not fully sustainable. Reformation, on the other hand, is a company whose mission and goal is to be sustainable, from materials used to labour employed. While these practices and efforts are commendable, their price tags reflect it, thus making it unobtainable to the average girl. I do, however, love shopping from brands like these because I feel my spending guilt curbed with the idea that I am a responsible consumer.

With fashion trends cycling through faster than ever, most of us can’t afford, nor find, all of our clothing to be from sustainable fashion sources. Personally, I reduce my footprint by simply buying less, saving up for items I really want to invest in. Building my closet full of staple pieces that can worn in endless ways, including being mixed with trendy pieces from fast fashion retailers. The portrayal of lifestyles on social media is one catalyst in the rampant consumerism driving the fashion industry. I personally look forward to seeing what the future of fashion has in store with the growing global focus on sustainability.

What are your thoughts on fast fashion vs sustainable fashion?

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