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  • Writer's pictureMichaela A de Guire

What is fast Fashion?

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Put simply, fast fashion is the total opposite of slow fashion. However, if you do not know what slow fashion is, how can you know what the opposite of it is?


Thus, fast fashion is the desire and purchase for fresh looks constantly. It is difficult to know whether the consumers (that is us humans who wear clothes) are the ones who sped fashion up to the speed it is today or if it was the media from the fashion industry's most influential people telling us we are ‘behind the times.’


To keep up with the consumer's wants and this instant gratification or ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ that many have now-a-days, there was an increase in the rate of production. With the increase of production comes cutting corners to make up for lost time. Time that was never there to begin with.

A little side note here, I do not yet know if this is a rumor or if it is the truth, although there is usually a seed of truth in rumors, I just want to be sure you understand I haven't done the research to know whether it is hard truth or not. Fast fashion was coined by the New York Times in the 1990’s when Zara shared their mission to shorten the lead time on clothing for months to just 15 days. That means Zara could take something from design to in the shop windows just 15 days after seeing its inspiration (or quality replica) on the runway. To be clear Zara is the knockoff of what one would see on the runway.


Cutting Corners - Price


The first thing you might notice is the price. To keep costs down and you interested in buying more, a quantity over quality approach is taken into effect.

Fast fashion brands will do all they can to keep the costs down so they can sell more. Including operating sweatshops. A sweatshop is a place where garment workers are working night and day, or extremely long hours to produce a certain amount of product while earning a pitiful wage. Wages that don’t feed them much less their families. Since the seamstress is working longer than what the Western world would say is “normal hours”, is not making enough to feed herself, and is sewing in awful working conditions absorbing lint and other harmful particles and chemicals in the air in her lungs and skin, this ultimately leads to an early demise.


In short, the reason the clothes are so cheap is because the people making them are not getting paid enough to eat. -Michaela de Guire

Cutting Corners - Quality // Fit


The next thing you might notice when you purchase and wear fast fashion is the fit. There is no time for quality checks when a product is being produced at such high rates to meet the population's demands. Thus, the fit requirements are thrown out the window.


The ease that is offered to make the size as it should be for proper fit is hardly taken into consideration. An eighth of an inch give or take might be offered, however it might be a quarter of an inch difference between one size small and the next. Even if they are the exact same style, cut, and color from the same company.

When producing a large quantity of clothes at one time, the manufacturers will stack about a foot of fabric onto a cutting table, placing the patterns on top they work to cut out the shapes required. This might save a lot of time, however as the stack is so great they cannot stop the fabric from shifting, thus the bottom garment is going to have a different fit when compared to the top garment.


Cutting Corners - Materials


The next corner that is frequently cut is material origin that can lead to toxic chemicals, which more often than not end up in our drinking water supply.


In the fast fashion industry you will notice there are a lot of synthetic fabrics. Synthetic fibers are man-made fibers that are produced through the joining of chemical monomers into polymers using a chemical reaction called polymerization. A few familiar synthetic fabric names include polyester, acrylic, nylon, rayon, spandex. A few less familiar include polypropylene, lycra (aka spandex), viscose (aka rayon), microfiber, lyocell, and acetate.

Although it takes a lot of water to grow and manufacture cotton I’d say it is worth it because it is recyclable and biodegradable. Cotton fibers can be recycled and will use less water to remanufacture. However, if it ends up in the landfill it will easily decompose. If you use a synthetic fiber, such as polyester you will find that they are made from fossil fuels and chemicals, and are non-biodegradable. Although polyester is recyclable, new fibers are being made faster than they can be decomposed.


There are a number of chemicals used in the process of dyeing and manufacturing your clothes. Thus, this is creating a habitat for chemicals to grow and thrive. Some of these harmful chemicals are not easily removed when the garment is washed leading to health risks for you when you wear the clothes.


Thus, after more research I have found sticking with organic natural fabrics is far better for you, the plants, animals, as their habitats are being destroyed with the manufacturing of synthetic fiber, and the plant in general.


Beware - Anyone can


We must be aware of our buying habits. To end the horrible fast fashion or fast industry in general we must stop supporting the fast industry altogether.

You have the ability and responsibility to end fast fashion. -Michaela de Guire

Shop with pre owned shops, upcycle what you already have, mend what is broken, and shop with recognizably sustainable or slower fashion companies.


A Warning worth heading: Any company can purchase a certificate of sustainability. How do you know it's actually the real deal?

  1. Certificate source, is it independent or commercial?

  2. Materials sourced from?

  3. Brand philosophy?

  4. Brands' views for the future in the fashion industry?

  5. Ask the brand questions, are they transparent?


Fast fashion is quite literally what it says, fast past fashion that is ever moving and the quality is decreasing as the years move forward. With the speed necessary to continue offering the clothes there is no time for quality control. How many times have you worn that top you couldn’t wait to get before you threw it away? Fast fashion's bottom line is based on the quantity of items sold, not the quality.


Fast fashion is like purchasing pretrash. Things that you know are not quality items, but you buy them to use them for a short while because you want to save a penny. When you know in your heart the long run is better. Investing in quality items (clothes, shoes, dishes, etc.) that will outlive you is better than continuing the fast pretrash cycle.


So you see fast fashion is not only bad for the planet, the people, animals, etc.. It isn't good for you either… For both your soul, mind and body.


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