What's Bad About Fast Fashion?

What’s So Bad About Fast Fashion?

With ever-changing trends, shopping for clothes and staying up-to-date has become an integral part of the fashion lifestyle. There is an increased demand for new and modern styles. To keep up, the clothing industry started excessive production and overstocking of stores. They began to create new sub-trends to meet the whims and fancies of their consumers and quickly discarded any stocks that didn’t match the latest micro-seasonal trend. This gave rise to the fast fashion industry. Fast fashion was all about keeping up with fast-paced changes in the fashion industry. It makes clothes more accessible and affordable to customers. But, behind all the glamor and glitz of the newest designs, there is the saddening reality of environmental degradation, exploitation, and ethical dilemmas. Let’s find out the real fast fashion meaning and why it is so bad for the fashion industry. 

Fast Fashion Meaning: The Reality Behind the Glamor

Fast fashion is a business model that makes low-cost and trendy styles – inspired by the latest runway trends or celebrity styles – to consumers at breakneck speed. It works on the principle of making the newest styles available in the market at the snap of a finger. And plays into the idea that repeating an outfit is a fashion faux pas and the only way to stay fashionable is to sport these new looks as soon as they hit the market. 

Fast fashion clothing is part of a notorious cycle of overproduction and over-consumption, thus, making the fashion industry one of the largest contributors to environmental pollution.

The Rise of Fast Fashion Clothing

Although, the fashion industry has been developing since the Industrial Revolution – after the invention of the sewing machine – mass production only began during World War II. During the war, fabrics were rationed so styles became simpler, and clothes began to be produced in factories. It has continued to expand since then. During the 1990s clothing production was outsourced to developing countries to take advantage of cheap labor and affordable materials. This was also when manufacturers started to reduce the time needed for production and began updating new collections more than four times a year. 

Thus, the new production model of ‘fast fashion’ was born. Clothing production began to accelerate at a dizzying speed, becoming more affordable in the mass market. But this expansion is not without consequences. It came with fast fashion problems that contributed to the immense carbon footprint of the fashion industry.

Fast Fashion Problems: Why Are They So Bad?

Now that we know the fast fashion meaning and how the fast fashion industry came to be, let’s take a look at some of its adverse effects on the well-being of the fashion industry. 

Fast Fashion’s Exploitation of Labor Practices

One of the major fast fashion problems is its exploitative labor practices. To produce clothes at cheaper prices, clothing manufacturers outsource their production to countries that have a lower GDP, slacking labor laws, and low wages. The workers in these clothing factories are subjected to long hours of work in unsafe environments at extremely low wages. The fast fashion supply chain is also replete with news of child labor and sweatshop-like working conditions where they are continuously exploited by employers. 

Fast Fashion Impact on Environment

The fast fashion environmental impact is staggering. The fast fashion industry takes a heavy toll on the planet as it continuously depletes natural resources and causes pollution. In its pursuit of providing customers with cheap and trendy clothes within days, the fashion industry overconsumes natural resources like water, land, and energy. It uses materials like cotton that require large amounts of water for irrigation, thus causing freshwater wastage. They also use toxic chemicals for their dyeing and finishing processes and extensively pollute water bodies. However, the worst fast fashion impact on the environment is the dumping of unwanted clothes. Old styles are discarded in open landfills where they take years to decompose and release harmful greenhouse gases.

Ethical Dilemmas of Fast Fashion

The practice of fast fashion raises ethical concerns regarding materialism and consumerism. The influence of the fast fashion industry has given rise to a culture of disposability where clothes are readily disposed of without a second thought. It also leads to impulse shopping where customers continue to buy the latest trends and discard them after a few wears, giving rise to a cycle of overconsumption and waste generation.

Fighting Fast Fashion Problems

Fast fashion problems can only be dealt with when we come together to combat them. It should include consumers, producers, policymakers, brands, and retailers. As consumers, we have the biggest responsibility to make conscious decisions and break the cycle of fast fashion. Here are some tips to tackle fast fashion pollution and make a difference. 

Pick Clothes Made of Organic and Recycled Material

Choose clothes that are made of organic fabrics like cotton, hemp, bamboo or Tencel. These organic materials require less water to grow and no harmful pesticides. This helps to preserve freshwater resources. You can also choose fabrics made of recycled materials like plastic bottles and bags to reduce pollution. 

Support Sustainable Brands

If you are looking to move away from the fast fashion industry, you can start by supporting sustainable brands. Numerous brands and designers have realized the adverse effects of fast fashion and started to produce their merchandise more ethically and sustainably. Supporting these brands will ensure that you are making conscious choices.

Follow Slow Fashion

Slow fashion refers to clothes with timeless designs and subtle colors that don’t go out of style. Choose outfits that support slow fashion and make a sustainable style statement.


Fast fashion may offer affordability and convenience, but its harmful effects on labor, the environment, and society are too conspicuous to ignore. With exploitative practices, ecological degradation, and ethical dilemmas, the actual cost of fast fashion is far beyond its price tag.

Do your bit in saying no to fast fashion and check out Raw Revel’s sustainable styles for a stylish and eco-friendly look.

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