Fast fashion is responsible for the huge growth of the textile and apparel industry over the last 20 years. Fast fashion brands and retailers such as H&M, Zara, C&A, Primark, Forever 21 have been growing massively into large corporations.
We created this definitive list of 89 fast fashion brands to avoid because of their disastrous social and environmental impact.
Fast fashion isn't sustainable or ethical. The overproduction and overconsumption of cheap disposable clothing lead to an enormous quantity of textile waste, water, air and soil pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
The success of fast fashion is due to the ever-increasing demand of consumers for new trendy clothes at affordable prices.
It's difficult to resist buying fast fashion, especially with the constant presence of the latest trends in social media, magazines, and online articles.
Fortunately, an alternative to fast fashion is gaining popularity: slow fashion or sustainable fashion.
Read up our article on the alternative slow fashion vs fast fashion.
Let's have a look at what's bad about fast fashion before listing all the 89 fast fashion brands you should avoid at all costs.
What is wrong with fast fashion
Cheap new trendy clothing inspired from runway shows pushed to high street stores on a weekly basis is fast fashion.
This encourages consumers to buy more. It also makes clothes disposable as they are being replaced with new trends rapidly.
There are no more 2 to 4 traditional seasons for new collections. In the fast-fashion world, there are 52 seasons instead.
Consumers demand new clothing at an affordable price being influenced by social media personalities. That's why fast fashion has such a huge success.
However, the fashion industry lead by fast fashion is the second-largest polluter in the world. It is responsible for huge textile waste, clean water pollution, toxic chemicals, 10% of worldwide carbon emission, according to the recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Fast fashion brands employ farmers and workers in the poorest countries under unsafe working conditions without paying them a living wage violating human labor rights.
By buying cheap clothes from unethical fast fashion brands, you are supporting child labor, modern slavery, and the death of thousands of people.
If you want to drive change in the fashion industry, there are a few easy things you can do. As a consumer, you have humongous power.
Read up our article on how to quit fast fashion for a complete guide to transition to sustainable fashion.
List of 89 fast fashion brands to avoid
Unfortunately, there are too many fast fashion brands to list all of them. Avoid buying from these fast fashion brands because of their disastrous social and environmental impact:
- They use toxic chemicals
- They don't care about animal rights
- They impose child and forced labor
- They authorize unsafe factories
- They don't protect the environment
Several labor rights violations are very common among many fast fashion brands. Clothing production occurs mostly in Asia in countries such as China, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Poor working conditions and unfair wages have to stop. These brands prioritize profits over the well-being of people. Farmers, workers, and local communities are too often treated unfairly.
Out of desperation, many farmers commit suicide each year. Others will sew S.O.S. messages in garments. Forced labor and cases of modern slavery are still shockingly being reported. Not to mention child labor, forced abortion, and sexual harassment.
Fast fashion brands are often associated with sweatshops where staff members work under unsafe conditions, aren't paid a decent living wage and have no healthcare.
Some people work over 100 hours per week in fast fashion brands' garments factories, without being paid for over six months.
Many fast fashion brands still use animal products and by-products to make their clothes. Leather, fur, down, wool support exploitation and animal cruelty.
Fast fashion brands are also responsible for the 2013 building collapse in Dhaka Bangladesh. The Rana Plaza garment factory killed 1,134 people and injured more than 2,500 people due to a structural failure.
Synthetic low-quality fabrics are overused, damaging human health and ecosystems, encouraging throwaway culture.
Very few sustainable materials are used. Almost no natural, organic, or recycled materials are used to make clothing.
They don't care that much about their impact on the planet, animals, and humans.
Here is our definitive list of 89 fast fashion brands to avoid:
- & Other Stories
- Abercrombie & Fitch
- Ally Fashion
- Ben Sherman
- Camilla and Marc
- Charlotte Russe
- Cheap Monday
- Cooper St
- Cotton On
- Darn Tough
- Diana Ferrari
- Fashion Nova
- FIVE FOXes
- Forever 21
- Free People
- Fruit of the Loom
- Hot Topic
- J. Crew
- Jasmine & Will
- Little Trelise
- Massimo Dutti
- Miss Selfridge
- Nasty Gal
- New Look
- Noni B
- Old Navy
- PE Nation
- Pretty Little Thing
- Pull & Bear
- Rainbow Shops
- Rip Curl
- River Island
- s. Oliver
- Trelise Cooper
- United Colors of Benetton
- Urban Outfitters
- Victoria's Secret
Many other brands aren't on this list. Some fast fashion brands are of course better than others and trying to improve making real efforts to better their social and environmental impact.
Feel free to gather more information about a brand you used to buy from. You can do a quick search on the internet, examine their website and social media profiles, or ask them to answer your questions directly.
Please show them that you care about the environment, how your clothes are made and the people who made them.
Who you can do instead of buying from fast fashion brands is:
- buying less,
- buying higher-quality clothing,
- buying from ethical and sustainable brands,
- shopping secondhand clothing from thrift stores and resale shops,
- renting your clothes,
- swapping with friends and family,
- reusing, repurposing, and up-cycling.
Do you know any other fast fashion brand that we should add to the list?
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MSc) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks four languages and holds two Master of Science in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.