Fast Fashion vs Sustainable Fashion

In the last 100 years, we have been consuming more resources from the earth than nature can replenish. As a result of the huge popularity of fast fashion in the last 30 years, the textile and fashion industry has become one of the significant contributors to pollution.

The fashion industry counts as almost 10% of the global carbon footprint. Cheap fast fashion items follow the latest fashion trends and are easily available in the market. Readily available cheap fashion has meant that consumers will buy a new item for every occasion they need one for. Often these clothes are worn once, or sometimes never worn at all. Cheap trendy clothes sound great in principle, but what is the real cost of this luxury?

What is a fast fashion?

Fast fashion is the practice of rapidly & cheaply producing clothes in-line with the latest trends. The idea here is to make affordable celebrity style dresses for high street shoppers.

Social media, TV, internet, celebrities and influencers are constantly feeding us with tons of offers & discounts; tempting us to spend more on clothing. Fast fashion has made cheap & fashionable clothing options available to everyone.

The fashion industry has seen a rise in sales on cheap fast-fashion items over years. See below data by Statista –


This indicates a huge demand for fashion wear. To fulfill this demand, several brands adhere to the mass production of affordable & substandard quality dresses. Now, you may think what’s the harm with that? Let’s move on to find out how fast fashion affects our life.

How does Fast fashion affect our environment?

Fast fashion may not have an immediately noticeable impact on our day to day life, but in the long run, it does affect our core existence on the planet. Most of the clothing made will be made from synthetic fibres e.g. polyester, which makes up 35% of the micro plastics in oceans, poisoning the marine life, eco-system & human life by entering our food chain.

Fast fashion emits close to 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per yr. It affects our rivers and streams by producing almost 20% of global wastewater.

A fast fashion dress is often wrapped in plastic 3 separate times, contributing even more to our single-use plastic problem. With the change in fashion trends, old clothes are disposed of after single time use, leading to piles unwanted & discarded clothes in landfills (1 truck per minute full of clothes is sent to landfill), or just burnt, causing irreparable pollution and an increase in carbon emissions.

Fast Fashion garbage

The average person will buy an item from a fast-fashion brand and not think about the repercussions behind that purchase. Have you ever wondered, why is it priced so low?

How can the company selling the product make a profit on that item? How do the people making the item get paid enough if the t-shirt is only £5?

However, it’s essential consumers start to think about and ask these questions, and Style Collective London is on a mission to educate and encourage the average person to ask these types of questions. So let us tell you…

Why fast fashion items are priced so low?

The price of the item is so low because they produce hugely vast quantities of product, using the cheapest possible materials and pay their factory workers extremely low wages.

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The company makes a profit on the item in two ways. First and most devastatingly for humanitarian issues is that they pay their factory workers next to nothing. Recent reports show that factory workers in the UK working for factories that produce clothing for brands such as Boohoo, Nasty Gal, PrettyLittleThing and Missguided are paying their workers £3£4 per hour and forcing them to work in extremely unsanitary conditions. Secondly and most devastatingly for the environment, they produce extreme quantities of the item so that their initial cost to produce is low and so that they can sell tons & tons of product.

How do the people making the item get paid enough if the t-shirt is only £5?

If something is being sold for this cheap, it’s highly likely the people making the item are not getting paid much at all. The Guardian recently reported garment workers in one family of 4 were living off £8,000 per year in Leicester. In Bangladesh, where there is a huge concentration of garment factories, the average worker gets paid the equivalent of £25 per month. A living wage (the minimum required to survive in the country) is £45 per month.

Is there any solution to the fast fashion crises?

It’s essential that the consumers should wake up to the devastating effects that mass fast fashion production is having on our planet. In short, we don’t need a miracle to stop these changes, we just need people to start making changes to how they shop. A simple way to stop the hazardous effects of fast fashion, is to opt for Sustainable fashion.

What is Sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion is the future of the fashion industry. Sustainable fashion is an ethical, nature-friendly, socially good way of producing high-quality clothes.

Recycle     +   Natural Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable fashion or slow fashion, includes recycling of old clothes, the use of natural or organic material like bamboo or organic cotton. Organic cotton & bamboo grows in less water, thus when used as material for clothing, it requires less water for production. Brands that use natural materials will not need to use chemicals or plastics in production, which is again better for the environment. Some brands, such as Girlfriend Collective, have even started making clothing out of recycled materials such as plastic water bottles.

As an individual, what we can do to stop fast fashion?

When you buy an item, think about how many times you could wear that item. If it’s less than 30 times, don’t buy it.

  • Rent special items from us – Often, we wear occasion wear just once, for fear of being caught in the same outfit again. This is an insane mentality but if that’s what you are worried about, then just rent those special pieces. 
  • Buy quality not quantity – Want a pair of new leggings? Buy them from sustainable brands or superior quality brands so that they have longevity. Good quality pieces will last for years and years.  
  • Don’t be trend led If it’s going to go out of style by next season, don’t buy it. If you want it, find somewhere you can rent it.
  • Repair your clothes  A little hole in something is easily repairable. Don’t bin it!
  • Commit to a fast fashion ban It may seem impossible right now, but your wallet and your sanity will thank us for it later.

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