Fast fashion was a term first coined by retailers to encapsulate how fashion trends move rapidly from the catwalk to the store. There’s a short turnaround time between designing garments and the production of a clothing collection. Manufacturing is quick and cheap and consumers in the Global North can easily take advantage of affordable and desirable clothes in the shops of high street brands. Fast fashion garments are normally produced in the Global South, predominantly by low paid, female workers. Quick turnaround times place often overwhelming demands on these factory workers, one effect of which can be the manufacture of lower quality clothing. This can encourage the rapid consumption and disposal of cheap clothes after they have been worn only a few times, creating a very unsustainable  sector” 

Admittedly I’m a total sucker for fast fashion. Often window-shopping online in the evening; saving items to my basket or wish list, where they’ll sit till I’m certain I’m ready to “invest”. Although I would say I consume cautiously with consideration to my budget and needs. I’d also say I consume at a rate greater than is really probably necessary. And whilst I tend to justify this with the fact I have an interest in fashion and work as a stylist, last month (after one temporary style swap) I actually swapped a piece of my wardrobe with a piece from The Salty Sea‘s Sarah’s. They were items we were both planning to sell online or deliver to a charity shop at some point, but it got me thinking how between the two of us there’s enough. How between all of us there’s really more than enough.

 

From the cheap mass-production to the swift disposal of a trend (we’re looking at poor resource management, toxic industrialism and landfills) there’s no doubt that fast fashion is dysfunctionally unsustainable and a slow death for the planet.  But its impacts are more than just environmental. Fast fashion calls for the outsourcing of cheap labour; for garment factories renowned for questionable worker’s rights and exploitation. The clothing made is designed to fall apart in order that we buy more. And to be honest, it’s not just the well-being of others being compromised. I’m pretty sure a wardrobe full of throwaway fashion does little for our own peace of mind. I mean is it just me, or is this where the whole notion of “nothing to wear” comes from.

So how can we help? How can we do things better? Well we can slow the rate at which we buy new clothing. Purchasing less but ensuring those garments bought are of a higher quality; choosing clothes that are well made and will last. Also rather than going to brands – whether high street or designer – hold clothing swaps and buy second hand from charity or vintage shops. Plus there’s sites like eBay and Depop, which are especially handy if you’re on a tight budget. It’s also worth checking out Labour Behind the Label; they provide great advice on how to change old shopping habits as well as campaigning for garment worker’s rights worldwide.

Finally (cause I know a lot of people who read this blog are bloggers themselves) I don’t think a slower approach to fashion, needs to spell the end for fashion blogging. Personally I’d love to read a post on what few key pieces you’d invest in for that season. Or how you’d mix and match those pieces together. Even how to style a certain item in a number of ways. I’d like to hear about the charity shop finds, the epic eBay auction wins and local clothing swaps. Maybe even how you’ve made your own clothing from scratch – cause goodness knows you couldn’t find exactly what it is you were looking for elsewhere!

I think in the end, rather than trend hopping, it’s about seeing fashion as a form of self-expression. It’s about choosing garments that will last; standing the test of time as well as articulating some sense of personal style. It’s about letting your clothing tell stories for years to come; of who you are or who you feel like being that day. There are no rules to this besides looking after each other and the planet. In the end when it comes to fashion, I think it’s about holding a simpler and more purposeful approach to our wardrobes, that isn’t only more sustainable for the planet, but for our own sense of well-being too.

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  1. Reply

    Rhiannon Pulling

    16th January 2016

    Over the years I've become more aware of fast fashion and especially working along Oxford Street, you see how much we buying and eventually dispose of – which is a shame! X
    Everything But The Kitchen

  2. Reply

    Olivia Bossert

    16th January 2016

    This has been on my mind a lot recently as well… I spend too much money on clothes, and I'm fully aware of it. There's been a growing movement towards capsule wardrobes, which I'm really fascinated by, and have really wanted to see if I can give it a go. I'd really like 2016 to be the year I learn to use the clothes I already have, and shop consciously! When I was at school, my girlfriends and I would frequently do clothes swaps, and they were so much fun — someone always left with something which really excited them!
    xxx

  3. Reply

    Sarah Ann

    16th January 2016

    I love this, totally agree. I don't think people properly realise the impact both behind the production and after they dispose of items. I've been trying to tone down my spending and invest in thoughtful pieces I know will stand the test of time and be styled in multiple ways rather than going out and buying something because I have nothing to wear and end up wearing it only once.

  4. Reply

    JenniferZ

    16th January 2016

    You took soo many lovely pictures! And you are so right, fashion is a form of self expression because you need to feel comfortable in your clothes and no trend can make that happen! 😉

  5. Reply

    Anoushka P

    17th January 2016

    This is such a fab post, I completely completely agree (I actually recently wrote a post on buying less, and items worth investing in!)! As bloggers it can be so hard as you do get lured in by the desire to stay on trend and keep producing new content with new clothes, but its so unsustainable!

    Anoushka Probyn – A London Fashion Blog

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Thank you so much! I'll have to go give that a read – so glad to hear other bloggers are thinking about this too! xx

  6. Reply

    thecardiffcwtch.com

    17th January 2016

    "I think in the end, rather than trend hopping, it's about seeing fashion as a form of self-expression. It's about choosing garments that will last; standing the test of time as well as articulating some sense of personal style."

    This is so true. Recently fashion has been completely disposable – buy a cheap outfit, wear it once, replace with new, eventually either throw it away or donate. Striving for a smaller wardrobe of unique, well – made pieces that will last longer than a season is what we should all be striving for 🙂

  7. Reply

    Rachel Elizabeth

    17th January 2016

    This is such a great post. I've been really struggling with this because I love fashion but I also have a passion for being green and making a difference to the environment and it seems like these two just can't got together but they can! It's so great to hear you'd love to see posts about capsule wardrobes and preloved pieces. One of my new years resolutions is to not buy new clothes and just restyle what I already own or sell some clothes before buying new ones and investing in good clothes that will last. I think this is a great message to share across the fblogging community!

    http://www.lifewiththeroofdown.com/

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Thank you Rachel!! And that sounds like a great new years resolution – I'm definitely thinking along the same lines! xx

  8. Reply

    Sarah || Moon + Forest

    17th January 2016

    I'm currently getting rid of most of what I own to go travelling and I have to say I'm completely ashamed of how many bags of clothes I donated to the charity shop. I never think to spend money on things that I really love and will last, and instead buy cheap pieces that I wear a few times before they fall apart, or worse, never wear at all. Clearing out has really opened my eyes to how much waste I create and I hope that now I'm starting from scratch I'll be a little more selective and responsible with my fashion choices.
    http://www.moonandforest.co.uk

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Oh my word! I've been clearing out my room and the number of bags of clothes going to charity shops is just embarrassing and actually quite shameful. It's really got me rethinking how much I consume. xx

  9. Reply

    Mimmi

    17th January 2016

    Love this post, Alex! I've become better and better at not buying tons of cheap clothes that I'll end up not liking in a year. My style has become much more classic and timeless, and I prefer buying clothes that I can wear over a long time, and that I can pair with most of my other clothes. I also try to invest where I can. However, I know I can do so much more. I'm terrible at buying second-hand, and I still mostly buy from the big chains (even if my purchases aren't mindless, spur-of-the-moment purchases). I'm really aiming to continue building my minimal wardrobe, getting better at investing in quality and avoiding the big high street stores. It's so difficult when you're surrounded by the whole fast fashion mentality though!

    Mimmi xx
    Muted Mornings

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Ah thank you Mimmi! And I would definitely say your clothing style is timeless and classic ^_^ But I know what you mean! It is so difficult when surrounded by fast fashion! Maybe more minimal wardrobe posts are in order! xx

  10. Reply

    Cherie Koh

    17th January 2016

    This rings with so much truth, Alex! Really resonated with me and encapsulates how I aspire to be too, but as you say, find it hard sometimes when I open up my browser window and start window shopping! But I think I've definitely come a long way since snapping up cheap clothes which I thought were 'bargains' and in reality, are fronted by large corporations with dreadful labor conditions! I'm also on a 'mission' this year to cut down on buying extra, and in the process revamp what I want to wear and choosing more timeless pieces that I'll definitely keep for a long time. I'm also thinking to venture in depop but it's just so much out there and I need to clear up quite a heap….

    Cherie x
    say hi at sinonym

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Hehe yeh! I think this January before I buy any more clothing I'll be having a big clear out – slowly listing stuff on Depop or taking it to charity shops! Although that said, it would be so lovely if there was a way for us to all have a big bloggers clothing swap! xx

  11. Reply

    jen

    14th August 2016

    Since studying fashion at degree level I’m more aware of the fast fashion movement and the effects it has on society. I’m trying to better my buying habits in doing so, but when you’re a student it’s difficult to not indulge in fast fashion’s prices.
    Jen / Velvet Spring x

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