While I have always been aware of the impact the fashion industry has on the environment, working with designer shoes made me better understand just how much fast fashion negatively impacts not only the industry, but our world.
Fast fashion is a contemporary term used for the mass production of trendy clothing that is made as quickly and as cheaply as possible. “Fast” refers to two parts: one, how quickly the clothes are produced, and two, how long they last. Fast fashion (think Forever 21, H&M, Topshop, etc.) are made for quantity, not quality. This often leads to the items being thrown out by the consumer (unlike sustainable options, which often focus on long-lasting quality). The extreme pollution of fast fashion factories and the amount of unnecessary garbage produced creates a destructive cycle. Fast fashion is also harmful to individuals who work in these factories, as they are often paid poorly, subject to horrible work conditions, and exploited.
For more information, please watch this video. Teen Vogue does a great job of explaining the rise of fast fashion and the cost it has on workers and the environment:
Now don’t think I am getting up on a high horse to condemn everyone who has shopped fast fashion. I’m just as guilty as the next person! Cheap clothes are fun, exciting, and cute– But that doesn’t make them right.
For the past six months, I decided to cut down my fast fashion consumption. Even when out with friends or shopping with family, I declined, choosing instead to rewear clothes I already owned. The fast fashion brands you do see me wear are ones I had bought before I realized the negative impact on the environment and workers.
Fast fashion can be sneaky. Some brands that advertise themselves as sustainable, are in fact, not sustainable at all. That is why it is on us to do our research, or at the very least, be aware of our own consumption. It is not reasonable to expect everyone to suddenly boycott fast fashion, especially not when it has become the societal norm. Nor is giving up fast fashion an option for everyone– often, sustainable clothing is extremely expensive. Still, even if it seems small, everyone has a part to play in helping the environment and human rights. Whether it is emailing our favorite brands or making more ethical decisions, the earth will be a slightly better place because of it.
So, here are some great fast fashion brand alternatives:
One of my all time favorites is Reformation. Not only are the dresses gorgeous, but they are ultra committed to sustainability (and even have their own sustainability report!).
Another brand that I have heard great reviews about is the French shoe brand, Veja. They use all ethically sourced materials and emphasize fair trade conditions. While I do not own a pair yet myself, I have sold a few pairs when working at Nordstrom. Many praise their flexibility and durability. They also offer vegan shoes on their website: https://www.veja-store.com/en/
What do you think of fast fashion? If you know any good sustainable brands I failed to mention, let me know below in the comments.