Slow fashion vs fast fashion…what’s the difference? You’ve probably heard these two terms more often in recent years. If you’re not completely clear about what it all means, or why you should care, keep reading for a quick summary of the basics.
Have you ever wondered where your clothes come from and how they’re made? I know that fashion can often feel like a love-hate relationship: it’s loads of fun to express ourselves and take part in the newest trends, but it can also be overwhelming trying to keep up—plus feeling guilty buying more clothes than you actually need.
What if I told you there is a way to enjoy fashion without all the guilt and overspending? Enter: slow fashion.
What is Slow Fashion?
Slow fashion is a movement that advocates for more sustainable and ethical practices in the fashion industry. It’s all about quality over quantity and takes into account the impact of our fashion choices on people and the planet.
The principles of slow fashion include:
- Sustainability: Using materials and production methods that are environmentally friendly and don’t deplete our natural resources
- Durability: Manufacturing high-quality, well-made clothing that will last and can be repaired or repurposed instead of being tossed out
- Ethical production: Ensuring that workers throughout the fashion supply chain have safe working conditions and are treated fairly
There are many slow fashion brands that embrace these principles. Some to look for include Patagonia, which uses recycled materials and donates 1% of its sales to environmental causes, and Allbirds, which is known for being transparent about its production process and wages.
What is Fast Fashion?
In contrast to slow fashion, fast fashion is a term often used to describe clothing brands that focus on quick production. Their goal is to push out new collections frequently in response to celebrity styles, fashion magazines, and other current trends.
These brands are usually very inexpensive and are known to be less durable and of lower quality. In fact, many of these items are worn a only a handful of times and then discarded.
There are problems with prioritizing quantity over quality. This business model has damaging effects on people’s health and the planet as most materials used in this type of production process aren’t recyclable or biodegradable.
Fast fashion manufacturers often use cheap, synthetic materials that are difficult to recycle, meaning they usually end up in landfills. They also tend to rely on unethical labor practices to keep costs down.
So, while these companies may offer trendy clothing at low prices, it’s important to consider the true cost of their practices.
Slow Fashion vs Fast Fashion? How to Tell the Difference
So how can we tell the difference between slow fashion and fast fashion, and make the best buying choices? Here’s what to keep in mind as you shop:
Materials: Look for brands that use sustainable, natural materials—think organic cotton, linen, and wool. Stay away from synthetic materials like polyester and nylon, which are produced using non-renewable fossil fuels and can take hundreds of years to break down.
Production process: Slow fashion brands will often have a more transparent and ethical production process. Seek out companies that are open about their working condition and wages, and that have certifications like B Corp or Fair Trade.
Company values: Many slow fashion brands are committed to sustainability and ethical production practices, and they make this clear in both their mission and values. Take some time to learn about a brand’s policies to see if they align with your beliefs.
There are many great resources available to help you learn more. We like the Good On You app and website, for example, which rates brands according to their environmental and social impact.
To wrap up, slow fashion and fast fashion are two opposite approaches to the fashion industry. Slow fashion values sustainability, quality, durability, and ethical production practices, while fast fashion prioritizes the quick and inexpensive production of the latest trends.
When you make most of your purchases from slow fashion brands, you can enjoy fashion with less harm to the environment, and you won’t be contributing to the sweatshop economy. You’ll also be getting durable, ethically-made clothing you can feel good about wearing!
Want to learn a little more? Check out the fast fashion infographic below.
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