The environment, the quality of the products, and the people in the supply chain are all negatively impacted when fast fashion is practised. On the other hand, slow fashion involves enhancing working conditions, repairing any damage done to the environment, utilising regenerative and sustainable resources, and giving communities more say in the design process.
It’s possible that everyone is familiar with the term “quick fashion.” Larger fashion brands are frequently singled out for criticism for the manner in which they handle the manufacture of fast fashion. The “slow fashion” movement is a reaction to this current trend that has emerged in recent years. In 2007, novelist and activist Kate Fletcher was the first person to ever develop the word “slow fashion.” She introduced the concept in an article that she wrote for The Ecologist. Since that time, the concept of slow fashion has gained a lot of attention and continues to pioneer innovative approaches to the design, production, and consumption of garments.
According to The Business Research Company’s Fast Fashion Global Market Report 2022, the current fast fashion sector is worth $99.23 billion in 2022, and it is expected that by 2026, it will expand to $133.43 billion. This growth will take place over the next four years. This demonstrates that shifting the consumption habits of consumers continues to be a difficult task.
It is essential to investigate both of these phrases, namely “quick fashion” and “slow fashion,” in order to have a complete comprehension of the magnitude of the issue.
The term “quick fashion” refers to clothing that is produced in large quantities at inexpensive prices. The majority of the time, these are simpler versions of duplicated designs that were taken from the catwalk displays of high-end designers or businesses. The tides of fashion turn extremely rapidly, making it impossible to stay on top of the latest looks for very long. In order to maintain their position in the market, the firms who specialise in fast fashion produce their garments with an extremely short lead time. Because of the demand from customers, they are always looking for new ways to reduce costs and make their products more affordable. As a consequence of this descending spiral, the clothing are made at the lowest possible price and with the lowest possible quality. At first glance, it could appear that the fast fashion industry is very rewarding monetarily. Despite this, the ecosystem of the sector as a whole begins to disintegrate gradually as a result of the enormous pressure. The lowest attainable prices are obtained by lowering quality standards, compromising workplace norms, and causing damage to the environment.
The environment, the quality of the items, and the employees in the supply chain are the three key areas that are most severely affected by fast fashion. The environment is suffering the most from the present consumerist society. It’s possible that we’re the only creatures on earth that contribute to environmental destruction. The industry of fast fashion is not unique in this regard. Operations in this industry make use of inexpensive raw materials obtained through agricultural methods that do not promote ecological regeneration. Additionally, the herbicides, pesticides, and fertilisers used in these processes are known to have a negative impact on the environment. The production of synthetic fibres results in the discharge of tens of thousands of metric tonnes of microplastics into the world’s oceans. Additionally, it is the second largest polluter of water in the entire planet. Without the appropriate treatment of the effluent, the dangerous chemicals that are utilised in factories frequently make their way into the surrounding environment. These contaminants, both chemical and microplastic, will inevitably end up in the food chain.
The race to manufacture rapid fashion at the lowest possible cost often results in the exploitation of the workers who are involved in the production process. This includes people who work in factories as well as farms. The low salaries, unsafe working conditions, and lack of respect for human rights are a direct result of the price cutting that is done in the apparel industry. Because of the short lead periods and the fast speed of production, the workers are consistently overworked. Retail workers in undeveloped or developing countries frequently bear the responsibility of paying for price reductions at their stores.
When clothing is sold at a low price, it usually signifies that the raw materials used are of a lower grade, the quality standards are lax, and the designs do not appeal to the general public. Because of the reduction in both quality and durability, the clothes won’t last as long as it should. These broken goods frequently find their way into landfills. This results in a self-sustaining cycle of rising consumer demand. The customer continually purchases newer products while discarding older ones as they become obsolete.
As a form of resistance to an increasingly destructive system, the slow fashion movement has gained momentum. The practise of slow fashion inspires customers to shop more conscientiously and to make decisions based on their values. When purchasing clothing, consumers need to keep both environmental and social sustainability in mind. This is especially important for fast fashion. The durability of the garments is taken into consideration throughout both the design and production stages. It includes making the working conditions better, repairing any damage done to the environment, making use of regenerative and sustainable resources, and giving people more say in how decisions are made.
Over the past several years, the slow fashion movement has gained popularity, and contemporary consumers have begun to think about the influence that their purchasing decisions have. The goal of slow fashion is not merely to slow the rate at which the environment degrades, but also to reverse some of the damage that has already been done. The manufacturing of raw materials is subject to less pressure when the supply chain moves at a slower pace. Natural fabrics that are naturally grown are used in the production of slow fashion garments. Almost majority of the polyester that goes into making these clothing comes from recycled sources. As a result of materials being produced at a pace that is natural to their environment, the degradation of natural ecosystems can be prevented. Neither the dying nor the finishing operations involve the use of any hazardous chemicals. This lessens the worries regarding the pollution of the water.
When a movement advocates for buying fewer new items and making better use of the apparel one already owns, durability and quality become increasingly crucial. A quality that is not compromised in exchange for a somewhat greater price boosts the product’s longevity. It was more important to make the raw resources last longer than it was to lower the pricing. When there are less restrictions placed on the prices that may be charged, producers are able to produce garments with higher-quality stitching. It is important to keep in mind that when something is inexpensive, people have a tendency to purchase more of it. This is because inexpensive clothing does not last very long.
Another aspect of slow fashion is focusing on quality control throughout the entire supply chain. The movement promotes taking personal responsibility for the conditions in which employees are employed, from farms to factories. In the slow fashion movement, it is vital that fair salaries, safer production processes, and improved working conditions be implemented. Local communities have access to employment opportunities and empowerment, as well as the conveniences of education and healthcare.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that rapid fashion and slow fashion are complete opposites of one another. Even while slow fashion is at odds with the way a consumer who is concerned with saving money shops and only responds to the language of sales, it is crucial to comprehend that it is not always preferable to purchase items at a lower price. One must come to terms with the idea that more does not automatically equate to better. There is a possibility that the things are pricey. However, because they persist longer, one does not require as much of them. People that participate in the slow fashion movement frequently choose for a more modest wardrobe. The moment has come for consumers to make a distinction between the things that they want and the things that they need.