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fast-fashion vs. slow-fashion

what’s the difference?
by jewelz deszell

it wasn’t until the ’90s when we started to see significant shifts in the fashion world. new terms like “fast-fashion” were thrown around, and we began to see a divide between slow and fast production. thanks to zara, fast-fashion became widely popular and in high demand as consumers realized they didn’t have to pay as much for clothing anymore. unfortunately, consumers weren’t aware that cheap price tags had a hidden cost which is 10x more expensive; lack of ethics and environmental distress. 

fast-forward to today, some of fashion’s top brands like fashion nova, misguided, pretty little thing, topshop, etc., have left detrimental effects on the environment and lowered the standard in terms of social wellbeing. before going deeper into how fast-fashion is doing this, we’ll start by pointing out the differences between both business models.


what is it?

its definition is pretty much in its name. in the fast-fashion world, as many collections as possible are produced at rapid speed to match high-fashion trends, but at a wildly low price. as expected, these prices attract tons of consumers. especially, when sold on the idea that anyone can wear the hottest trends seen on runways, even if it’s not the same quality and will lose its value within the same year. the concept of fast-fashion is to produce as fast as possible, sell as quickly as possible, throw the rest out, then start producing the next trend before the first trend is even over. 

environmental and social threat

just like everything else, if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. in recent years, we started to see society shift from typical consumerism to conscious consumerism. meaning, we’re now paying attention to certain values on a human and environmental level and holding brands accountable for their role in decreasing these standards. the threat of fast-fashion is two-fold. 

first, cheap price tags can only be offered to consumers when costs are cut from somewhere else. even though the quality is reduced, it still costs money to produce. fast-fashion brands wouldn’t be able to make a profit if they paid their garment workers fair wages or followed labor laws. many leading brands have already been exposed for paying unlivable wages to their workers or in some cases, no wage at all. not to mention, inhumane working conditions which you can learn more about here.

if this isn’t harmful to humanity on its own, fast-fashion is also threatening the environment through massive pollution and waste. under the pressure of rapid production and deadlines, factories are responsible for toxic wastewater being dumped into rivers and excess clothing dumped into landfills. on a consumer level, fast-fashion encourages mass consumption making people feel out of style unless they’re constantly purchasing new clothes. this is dangerous because now we’re noticing that 85% of all textiles end up in landfills each year. not only does fast-fashion cut major corners in production to make a profit, but this business model is entirely dependent on deceiving customers.


what is it?

we know this is a lot of disappointing information, but fortunately, we have some good news too! fast-fashion has hit its plateau and slow-fashion is now on the rise. the difference between the two is that slow-fashion is a conscious and sustainable approach to clothing production. not only on the production level, but this business model doesn’t encourage mass consumption. instead, we encourage buying quality over quantity to reduce waste and addictive shopping habits at the same time. 

the biggest misconception is that slow-fashion is expensive. instead, we ask you to reconsider this and think of slow-fashion as fair. we’re so used to underpaying for our clothes that anything that’s priced fair, seems expensive. in reality, supporting slow-fashion means that you’re paying for fair wages, safe and humane factories, high-quality fabrics, and legal business practices. 


why choose slow-fashion?

while fast-fashion is tempting and incredibly hard to avoid, it’s hidden consequences far outweigh the value it’ll ever add to your life. to create social and environmental change, slow-fashion has to become our main priority when shopping for new clothes. everything starts on the individual level. just by being a conscious consumer, you’re already doing your part in impacting this shift towards a much more sustainable and ethical future.