The difference between fast fashion vs. slow fashion

What is the difference between fashion fashion vs. slow fashion?

What is fast fashion? Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by retailers to express that designs move from designer runways into their retail spaces, quickly. These fast fashion collections are based on the most recent fashion trends presented at Fashion Weeks during spring/summer and autumn/winter every year. What makes it fast, is optimizing aspects of the supply chain for these trendy designs to be manufactured quickly and inexpensively to allow the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price. Fast fashion is blamed for pollution in both the production and decay of clothing, awful workmanship and providing the public to consume heavily instead of purchasing quality items over time. Additionally, fashion fashion retailers have contributed to poor working conditions in developing countries.

What is slow fashion? Slow fashion is a movement that has arisen in opposition to fast fashion. It is a movement for designing, creating and purchasing fashion for quality and longevity. Unlike fast fashion, slow fashion promotes slower production schedules, fair wages and working environments, a lower carbon footprint and if it can, zero waste. Slow fashion retailers encourage the use of recycled materials, organic fabrics. Because of these factors, slow fashion designs are more expensive than fast fashion but promotes the idea of capsule wardrobes made of quality items that can be worn for longer periods of time.

One sounds better than the other, right? If I were to ask you which one would you choose, you would most likely say slow fashion. But, why don’t you? I’m definitely guilty of purchasing fashion fashion items more often than not, especially as a fashion blogger. Whether I’m purchasing it on my own or promoting fast fashion labels, It does hold a bit of guilt over my conscience. When I was younger I purchased fast fashion heavily. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I began to purchase items for their quality. With that said, I never really had a massive wardrobe. I always had a wardrobe that was full of items that I actually wore and I’ve always been an advocate for purging my wardrobe every 6 months or so. If slow fashion doesn’t seem feasible for your income, that’s okay. There are many ways that you can consume fashion that will be more beneficial for you and the planet.

I’m not saying that fast fashion is what you should buy if you can’t afford slow fashion but I will say that you can purchase fast fashion with a slow fashion mentally. As I mentioned above, slow fashion is a movement that encourages quality and longevity. So, here are my tips for purchasing fast fashion with a slow fashion mentality:

  1. Purchase items that you will wear for a long period of time. This means you won’t be consuming trends every season but will be developing a capsule wardrobe of items that you can mix with each other and wear for many years.
  2. Choose items made with quality workmanship. Some people will say that fashion fashion does not offer quality, but I have some items that are made very well and have lasted me a very long time. Most of the time, people don’t know it was from a fast fashion retailer.
  3. If you decide to purchase fast fashion and no longer want to own the item, please don’t throw it away. You can donate the clothing to charity, give it to your friends and family, consign it or hand it into a recycling program. I’ve mentioned H&M actually has one that you can bring in pretty much all fabrics including bed sheets.

Are you looking to purchase slow fashion but can’t always afford it? Here are a few tips to buying slow fashion:

  1. Save your money and purchase 1 item a season. I know it’s difficult sometimes to only purchase 1 item but once you slow down your consumption you’ll have an easier time physically consuming product and won’t need more than 1 item a season.
  2. Shopping consignment / vintage is a great way to own pre-loved items that can have new life! This is also the best way to purchase designer items, they may not be the latest trends but a classic quilted vintage Chanel never goes out of style.
  3. If you have your eye on an item and can’t spend the money right away, just wait for the item to go on sale and you can get it up to 50% off at some retailers.

Which retailers are considered fast fashion? Well… a lot. It’s not just Zara, H&M, Topshop and Forever 21 (which get the most grunt of the conversations) but it’s also brands like Club Monaco, MANGO, GAP, Aritzia, Uniqlo, Asos, Massimo Duti, Levi’s, I can go on… you can locate lists of fast fashion brands online. Keep in mind that if a brand does not put out a collection every season, this doesn’t mean their slow fashion. Take denim brands for example, some of them don’t necessarily put out a new collection every season but they’re still considered fast fashion as they are not running their business with a slow fashion mentally, which is to be ethical in every practice. Designer and luxury also don’t mean slow fashion. Pay attention to the designer label you are purchasing from and take note of how they create their product.

Where can you purchase slow fashion? I think a good start would be to go through the GARMENTORY website. It’s an amazing resource for independent designers who promote slow fashion mandates. From there, you can discover brands and retailers who carry slow fashion labels and it will be a bit of a rabbit hole from there! Everlane is also a brand who is paving the path for transparent design and business practices. They aren’t big on trends and promote ethical fashion.

I don’t want this post to make you feel bad about your own buying habits but it is about time that we ask ourselves what will we do with these clothes once we have them. I’m not an expert on the fast fashion vs. slow fashion movement but I thought it would make for a great discussion between us that you can take to your friends and family. More importantly, have the discussion with yourself when you purchase something next time.

Ganni beacon smocked top via Still Life | Vintage Ralph Lauren denim
Somewear Riveria tote via Still Life | St. Agni slides via Still Life | Bailey Nelson sunglasses | Kara Yoo calla earrings

Photos by Street Scout.

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