What is Fast Fashion ?


The term “Fast Fashion” literally has no two ways to it- it simply means fashion that is produced at a grossly fast rate. Under the umbrella of fashion fall not only clothes but also shoes, bags and accessories. All these items are made inexpensively and at high speed to deliver products to the market as fast as possible.

Fast fashion brands retail mass quantities of low-priced styles according to the latest trends or styles straight off the runway. These micro style-high quantity collections are released into the market in closely timed drops. As consumers, we are ready to spend on every collection for two reasons: Ever changing trends creating a need to stay in vogue and deterioration of existing clothes as they are made from cheap quality. Because there is demand, there needs to be supply resulting in clothing production being doubled since 2000. Though 60% more clothes were being purchased in 2014 than in 2000, they remained in use only for half as long as they did in 2000. 

Fast fashion results in heavy carbon emissions. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of carbon emissions by humans. Now that is more carbon emission than the flights and maritime shipping industries put together. If we keep this up, by 2050 the carbon budget could rise by to 26%, according to a 2017 report from Ellen MacArthur Foundation. That is a quarter of all carbon emissions from the planet. According to the UN, the textile sector alone contributes around 8 to 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Director of Communications at World Vision Ireland said that the fast fashion industry is responsible for high carbon emissions, water pollution and high landfill waste; emitting 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent every year.

Staying in time with the trends, brands like Zara offer close to 24 collections per year while H&M drops 12 to 16 collections every year. Almost every other label too went from an average offering of 2 collections in 2000 to 5 collections in 2011. More clothes are bought and soon out of use, the discarded clothes end up in landfills. Close to one full garbage truck amount of clothes are dumped into landfills or burnt (carbon emissions) every second! To put a percentage to it, up to 85% of fabrics go into landfills every year. 

Most of the apparel made by fast fashion brands are from polyester and cotton. Polyester releases 2 to 3 more times of carbon emission than cotton and they don’t biodegrade adding to plastic pollution. Cotton and polyester play a major role in the fashion industry’s contribution to being responsible for 20% of industrial water pollution worldwide.

To conclude, what we’re saying is that the grass is definitely not greener on fast fashion’s side. Choose slow fashion brands, brands that have made-to-order business models, buy from charity shops, thrift buy, buy from brands that don’t pollute water, brands that use carbon neutral shipping and so on. The list is endless, all one has to do is look in the right direction.

Click here to read more about slow fashion.