What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion can be defined as the mass production of cheap, trendy clothing which is poorly made and falls apart quickly.

Fast fashion churns out new styles at rapid speed to meet consumer demand. The idea is to get the newest styles on the market as fast as possible, so shoppers can buy them whilst they are at the height of their popularity and then, sadly, discard them after only just a few wears.


How to spot a fast fashion brand?

Some key factors to look out for that are common in fast fashion brands:

  • Hundreds of styles which follow on the latest trends
  • Rapid production of new styles and extremely short turnaround time between when a trend/garment is seen in the media and when it hits the shelves
  • Nontransparency about the manufacturing of the garments - who is making them, where are they made and what conditions they’re working in
  • Low-quality materials and poorly constructed garments, causing them to degrade and get thrown away after just a few wears 

Why is fast fashion bad?

Fast fashion comes with an enormous environmental price for both its production and disposal. 

Clothing production requires a considerable amount of energy and resources. They use environmentally costly materials like synthetic fabrics, which can create toxic waste during production that seeps into the local environment. There are also numerous problems with the materials and processes used, with the industry as a whole having a huge carbon footprint, which is responsible for up to 10% of total global carbon emissions, and this is estimated to increase by 50% by 2030!

And when it comes to the disposal, huge amounts of waste are produced. 350,000 tonnes, which is an estimated £140 million worth of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year. Some companies have also come out about their standard practices of burning unsold garments at the end of a season to avoid hefty markdowns.

The ethical implication on garment workers is another major concern for fast fashion. They endure extremely long working hours, get paid below the living wage and often work in extremely hazardous working conditions. The 2013 Rana Plaza disaster that killed over 1,000 workers in Bangladesh is just one example of how unsafe it is to work in this industry.


What can you do?

Buy less, buy better - it’s the ethos we live by here at Stay Wild.

Buying less is the first step. Creating a capsule wardrobe that you return to every season. Taking better care of the clothes you own and you can even try upcycling some of the garments you no longer wear into something new.

Of course sometimes you need to update your wardrobe for its missing parts, but the importance of buying something new is buying something better. What we mean by this is a garment that is high-quality, designed to last and is made both ethically and sustainably. And when you do choose to shop for something new, show your support and shop with small sustainable businesses. You can check out our eco-directory for a few of our favourite small and sustainable brands.