Fashion,  Lifestyle

What is Fast Fashion and How Can You Avoid It?

Fast fashion, are you buying into it?

Before thinking about buying that new jacket, ask yourself this: Do I need it, or do I want it?

If you’re buying it because it’s on sale, because of the brand name or because it’s trending – then chances are you might be falling into the fast fashion trap.

Fast Fashion: A term used by fashion retailers to show how ideas and designs moved quickly from the catwalk and celebrity culture to cheap trendy clothing in shops at lightning speed.

Money might be able to satisfy a lot of things, but at the end of the day, fast fashion won’t make you happy.

The True Cost of Fast Fashion

There is a Netflix documentary called “The True Cost” by Andrew Morgan which is genuinely eye-opening, and a definite must watch. The problem of fast fashion has always been severe, and avoiding certain brands like H&M and Primark would be a good idea, but understanding how deep the fashion industry goes and the extent of those consequences are shocking.

Please, do yourself a favor and watch the documentary. It changed my view on fashion and how I should be purchasing my clothes. I am now conscious of the brands I choose, and how often I make purchases.


Here are some points I gathered from the documentary on fast fashion:

  • The worlds second-largest polluter, right after oil, is the fashion industry.
  • One-in-six people work in the global fashion industry.
  • It takes 2700 liters of water to produce one shirt (the amount of water a person drinks in 3 years).
  • Using the toilet during a 10-hour shift in a garment factory can cause a significant uproar from managers.
  • Compared to 2002, the average person buys 60% more clothing and keeps them for half as long.
  • Only 10% of the clothes people donate to thrift stores or charities get sold, the rest get dumped in third world countries or in landfills.
  • Beading and sequins are an indication of child labor.
  • The wages of workers in garment factories can be as little as US$1-$3 a day.

What can you do?

We may not be able to purchase Stella McCartney, but there are still parts that we can do to reduce our footprint. Here it goes:

#1 How often will you wear it?

Be real with yourself. Will you wear this more than once? Before you purchase that funky dress (that will only go with one particular coat and needs the perfect bag), ask yourself: Will I wear this at least 30 times? If the answer is no, then forget about it. You need to shop with a more useful purpose.

fair trade clothing

#2 Slow down your fashion cycle!

I used to think there were only four seasons – spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Nowadays, there seems to be a new season every week. With fast fashion brands like H&M and Primark releasing new collections constantly, people are getting bombarded with new items of clothing forcing a desire of wants and needs.

We’ve all been there, that “ugh, I’m so over my entire wardrobe. I NEED to go shopping ASAP” feeling of inadequacy. It’s being installed in us daily through images on social media and dishonest media savvy. Break the fast fashion cycle! The impact will be significantly better for you psychologically in the long run.

#3 Turn to Fairtrade!

Again – it doesn’t need to be Stella McCartney for it to be Fairtrade, but there are many producer-centric brands out there who share profits equally and provide employees with humane working conditions.

Meon – A selection of sustainable clothes from international labels and designers
Supermarché – Fairtrade Streetwear
24 colours – Affordable clothing, with humane and sustainable conditions.
Armedangels – A variety of apparel products made from textiles such as organic cotton
Avesu – Vegan shoes and accessories
Saubere Sachen – Selling only ethical, sustainable, fair fashion products

And for everyone living outside Berlin, try these online eco-fashion sites:

Patagonia – Outdoor clothing
People Tree – Fairtrade fashion pioneer and online garment retailer
Nandi – Handmade, unique home & living items from all around the world.
Fine Yellow – Curator of the best conscious clothing styles for women
Essentials for Zula – Small family-run label, carefully crafting bralettes, swimwear and yoga wear.

If you know any more great brands that support sustainable and conscious fashion in your area, please add them in the comments below..

Example: In South Africa, there is a sustainable clothing brand from Australia called Country Road. They believe in sustainability, so go check them out.

#4 Say no to synthetic dyes

From contaminating freshwater resources with toxic waste to harming employees dealing with toxic substances, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry after oil. Stay clear of polluting big fashion brands such as Nike, GAP, Primark, Burberry, Versace, and Dior. Surprisingly, fast fashion brands like Inditex (Zara), Benetton and H&M conform to the Greenpeace Detox Programme.

For some time now I’ve been trying to observe the material I wear. My skin doesn’t react well to polyester and other synthetic fibers. However, there’s more to check than just the material. Watch the dye! I never really paid much attention to the way a t-shirt or dress got coloured, but recently I’ve tried to be more present with the substances I put on my body.

conscience fashion

#5 Stick to organic cotton!

As long as it’s cotton, everything’s okay. Wrong! Cotton is the most popular fabric in the world. In keeping with demands, farmers supposedly use GMO seeds with higher resistance to bugs. As insects become more resistant to the seeds, pesticides are needed. In the end, farmers pump their cotton fields with excessive amounts of pesticides and other toxins. The effects on the environment are devastating. Stick to organic cotton it’s better for the environment and healthier on your skin.

fast fashion

#6 Try Project 333™

Here’s how project 333 fashion challenge works: For three months, try dressing in 33 items or less, this is a great way to reinvent your wardrobe. Instead of buying new things as most people would do, instead look through your closet and find those clothes you haven’t worn in a while. Give them a fresh breath of life!

project 333

Final Thoughts

Question everything! Before making that purchase, ask where your clothes come from, who made them and where the materials are sourced. Dig a little deeper and ask yourself, is this something you need or want. We all need to make the difference we want to see in the world (cheesy but true). Remember, it’s the small things you do that sometimes have the most significant effect.

Making at the sweet spot between minimalism and purpose to live a meaningful and conscious life. A human. Being.

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