What is fast fashion?

You’ll hear fast fashion mentioned a lot when looking into sustainability. But what does it actually mean and why is it such a problem for the environment?

Photo of the author of this article.

Words by 



31 Mar




 min read

What actually is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is cheap clothing produced at irresponsible speeds to keep up with new trends.

Brands can speed up clothing production by using low-quality materials, pushing workers to the limit, and causing long term effects for short-term gain.

From the ’90s to now

The term fast fashion came about in the ’90s. New York Times first used it to describe Zara’s mission to take clothes from design to stores in just 15 days.

It was around that time Zara, H&M, Topshop and Primark took over high street fashion. They replicated designs from luxury fashion and made them accessible to all — at a fraction of the cost.

Collections were no longer seasonal. Brands went from 4 collections each year to over 52. Advertising constantly reminds us about the must-have clothes of the week. Clothing consumption increased a lot.

Compared to 15 years ago, we buy 60% more clothes. Not only do we buy more, but we also throw away more. Clothing production has doubled and clothing usage has decreased by 40%.

So what’s the problem?

The fashion and clothing industry is one of the world’s most polluting industries. It accounts for 8–10% of the world’s carbon emissions. Having damaging effects on people’s lives and the world we live in.

Fast fashion is unethical and not sustainable — resulting in overproduction, environmental damage, and overworking of factory workers.

Overproduction of clothes

Fast fashion is driven by clothing trends. Whether it's the styles in luxury fashion or what's seen on celebrities and influencers.

Fashion trends are short-lived. Styles and clothes quickly gain attention — but people soon lose interest as the clothes become oversaturated.

This throw-away culture means more clothes goes to landfill. Only 15% of clothing is recycled.

Cost to the environment

Fast fashion is destroying the environment. To keep up with demand, farmers have to use more and more toxic chemicals on their crops.

Chemicals used in fast fashion production end up in our waters. 20% of water pollution is tied to clothing production. And clothes sitting in landfill release harmful chemicals to the atmosphere until they're broken down. Which for synthetic fabrics, is almost never.

Overworking garment workers

The people who make these clothes earn very low wages, are pushed to their limits, and lack basic human rights.

There are also effects to workers’ health and wellbeing that are exposed daily to harmful chemicals.

Buy less by knowing more

You'll be glad to know there is a sustainable and ethical alternative. Slow fashion is an approach that has gained traction over recent years. We've put together a handy guide for you on slow fashion.

Slow fashion is the idea of designing, creating, and buying quality clothing that will last. Using recycled, organic, and sustainable fabrics.

It encourages slower production, less waste, fair pay for the garment workers, and lower carbon emissions.

By becoming more aware of what you buy and the impact it has — it’s possible to change the industry for the better. Good Garms brings sustainable and ethical clothing into one place.

Photo of the author of this article.

Words by 



Sep 8


Get the goods 👌

Learn about sustainability and how you can make your clothes last longer. Enter your email for occasional updates — see an example in our newsletter archive.

✓  Thanks for signing up!
✗  Something went wrong! Try again

No spam, unsubscribe at any time

Other Reading