Fast fashion is destroying the planet at an alarming rate. Over the last 20 years, the clothing industry took the cheap production of new trendy clothes to new levels.
Fast fashion has a disastrous social and environmental impact. The opposite of fast fashion, slow fashion, is more ethical, sustainable, and is gaining recognition within the textile and apparel industry.
Slow fashion is very important for the planet, the people, and the animals living on it. The fashion industry is a massive contributor to climate change. Slow fashion can stop the overconsumption and overproduction of clothes to save human health, the environment, and ecosystems.
The green movement is booming in the apparel industry as well. People pay more attention to the clothes they buy. And many fashion designers and brands offer more clothes made from sustainable materials to answer consumers' demand.
Slow fashion is a more conscious approach to fashion. It aims to produce high-quality, durable, and eco-friendly garments that customers can wear for a long time.
On the other hand, fast fashion delivers clothing with a very low lifespan to high-street stores weekly. Cheaply made clothing is disposable, worn only a few times by consumers before being thrown away.
The alternative to fast fashion, slow fashion, encourages designers, brands, and the general public to feel greater responsibility toward the environment, and workers in every step of the supply chain.
Let's have a closer look at the opposite of fast fashion: slow fashion.
What is the opposite of fast fashion?
"Slow fashion is about designing, producing, consuming and living better. Slow fashion is not time-based but quality-based (which has some time components). Slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers, and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities, and ecosystems."
- Kate Fletcher, textiles consultant, in her article on The Ecologist
With sustainability and fairness in mind, slow fashion drives progress within the textile and apparel industry.
To improve clothing design, production, and consumption, slow fashion promotes social, environmental, and economic sustainability instead of the traditional take-make-waste linear system of fashion.
Slow fashion understands that it's time to find an alternative to fast fashion and support a more environmentally friendly way of shopping for clothing.
If you are thinking about quitting fast fashion but aren't sure where to begin, read up my article on is it okay to buy fast fashion or should you quit.
Between green, ethical, eco-friendly, conscious, and sustainable fashion, it's hard to see the difference. The industry is fast-moving and in constant evolution.
All of the terminologies mean more or less the same thing. It's time to adopt environmentally friendly habits and move away from wasteful consumerism.
The fashion industry still functions with unsustainable, unethical, and environmentally damaging practices. We must change our economic systems, supply chains, and business models to build a sustainable fashion future.
I only started to reject fast fashion in 2015. But it's been one the most important decision I've made in my life.
I feel a lot happier and fulfilled now compared to the time when I was buying fast fashion every week.
Embracing the slow fashion movement has not only increased my confidence in making the right decisions but also helped me think more about others, by contributing less to the destruction of our planet.
You can learn more about my journey to building an ethical wardrobe in my other article on how I became a slow fashion advocate for good.
What does slow fashion stand for?
The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters globally. It's now more important than ever to promote the opposite of fast fashion.
A huge climate crisis and irreversible changes are happening right now in our environment.
Large fashion brands and retailers keep pushing garment prices down, making a destructive environmental and social impact in the process.
There are still instances of child labor and modern slavery in the apparel and textile industry. This industry is responsible for the death of thousands of cotton farmers, garment factory workers, and animals.
Catastrophic examples of fast fashion consequences are:
Check out my definitive list of fast fashion brands to avoid because of their disastrous social and environmental impact.
As consumers, we have a crucial role to play. We have the power to drive change when we choose the clothes we buy and who we support with our money.
Buying less and higher quality pieces that will last is preferable to fast fashion. Slow fashion stands for:
- protecting human and animal rights
- buying higher quality and lower quantity
- making more informed and careful clothing purchases
- preserving the environment and the planet as a whole
To begin a slower approach to fashion and build a more sustainable closet, you can start with the following:
- buy fewer clothes overall
- shop second-hand clothing
- subscribe to a clothing rental
- donate, sell, recycle or up-cycle what you don't need
- buy more classic pieces and less trendy clothes
- support ethical fashion designers and brands
- buy clothing made from sustainable materials
If you don't know what kind of materials you should be looking for, read up my article on the top 10 sustainable fabrics for sportswear.
Fast fashion grew exponentially over the last 20 years by cheaply producing and selling an enormous amount of trendy clothes to cheering customers.
Now, the opposite of fast fashion, slow fashion, encourages consumers to care more about the environment and the people making our clothes.
You can help raise awareness and solve the unseen problems in the fashion industry by buying high-quality, timeless, and durable pieces, made in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner.
Here are a few very helpful resources to guide you on your sustainable fashion journey:
- The True Cost by Andrew Morgan
- To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing out the World? by Lucy Siegle
- Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline
Unfortunately, the prices of ethical and slow fashion are still very high. As conscious consumers, we need sustainable fashion to become more accessible and offer more styles, colors, and silhouettes.
Change is happening within the fashion industry but not remotely fast enough. Slow fashion still comforts me by creating a bright, ethical, and sustainable future for fashion.
Have you started your eco-friendly fashion journey yet?
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) 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 three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.