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Are Fast Fashion Brands Overpowering the Market of Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion brands are still competing to win over consumers of fast fashion brands. Fast fashion brands are heavily advertised resulting in consumers shopping more with these brands than those that are sustainable. Changes are necessary and consumers are educated and shop with sustainable brands, to protect the future of the environment.

Sustainable fashion

Sustainable fashion refers to how the clothing will affect the environment – in production, through sales and how it’s then transported and creates waste.

There is an increase in demand for sustainable fashion. People are more considerate and educated of the effects their actions have upon the environment. Some are aware of the damaging consequences fast fashion has on the environment, therefore stop shopping at these brands.

When I think of sustainable fashion, I think of Stella McCartney. Their website states that they challenge and push boundaries to make luxurious products in a way that is fit for the world we live in today and the future: beautiful and sustainable. Stella McCartney do not use leather or fur and are pioneering new materials. Each decision that is made is a symbol of their commitment to defining what the future of fashion looks like.

H&M are a high street brand who are doing their part to be sustainable. In 2013, they were the first fashion brand in the world to launch a global garment collection initiative, allowing customers to hand in unwanted clothing to H&M stores in return for a £5 voucher to spend in-store. Many more high street brands followed this initiative such as Zara. Also, each year H&M launch the Conscious Exclusive collection. This collection comprises of “high-end environmentally friendly pieces, aiming to move H&M’s fashion and sustainability development towards a more sustainable fashion future.”

Fast Fashion

Missguided, Pretty Little Thing, and In The Style are examples of well-known fast fashion brands. Consumers purchase from these brands due to low price and once they have worn an item, they tend to throw it at the back of their wardrobe. Trends are constantly changing, and fast fashion brands are experts of producing clothing with a quick turnaround time. 

An example of a fast fashion brand that promotes cheap clothing is Missguided. Last year their popular £1 bikini was a hit with shoppers but also caused backlash. Missguided had a problem with keeping up with customer demand. The bikini was selling out in every size – from 4 to 24 – within 45 minutes after each restock.

As we are all becoming more conscious of how damaging fast fashion can be for the environment. The release of an unsustainable swimming costume like the Missguided one raised alarms. Missguided released a statement regarding this item saying, “there has been no compromise with this bikini – it is sourced to the same high standards as all of our other products.”

This statement to me is questionable because how can a fashion brand sell an item for that cheap when there are material and labour costs included? Even though there was plenty of criticism about the bikini, it was still selling out. This proves that many consumers do not consider how items are produced or how sustainable clothing is. Instead they care more about the price of an item.

Why fast fashion brands are not the way forward

Fast fashion brands may seem the easiest and cheapest way for consumers. Many also offer discounts for next day delivery. Consumers who are not as educated to where their clothing comes from, may see this as the best option.

Not only that, fast fashion brands are much more heavily advertised than sustainable fashion brands. Almost all social media and TV adverts and social media influencers are promoting a fast fashion brand. I Saw It First for example, was the sponsor of the popular TV show Love Island for the 2019 series. Every year Love Island has new clothing sponsors, which are usually always fast fashion brands.

It is crucial for the future that more people are educated about fast fashion and the danger this has on the environment. Indonesia is one of many developing countries where fast fashion is produced. Primark and Gap are some of the brands that manufacture their clothing in Indonesia.

Stacey Dooley’s documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secrets uncovers the shocking environmental impact caused by an insatiable appetite for cheap clothing. The documentary shows the impact the factories are having on one of Indonesia’s most important rivers, the Citarum. It is now the most polluted river in the world due to the harsh chemicals deposited from the factories.

Younger ages such as school children should be educated to allow them to make a more informed decision on their clothing choices. Documentaries such as the Stacey Dooley one should be in their curriculum so they learn the impacts of their clothing decisions. 

Shopping more sustainably

Fashion Revolution is a popular global movement. Their vision is ‘a global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit’. Fashion Revolution is fond of saying “the most sustainable item is the one already in your wardrobe”.

Shopping more sustainably does not just mean going out and spending money on new clothes. In fact, you do not need to spend any money at all. Going through your wardrobe and working with what you have is a great way of saving money and re-using what you already own.

The author of How To Break Up With Fast Fashion Lauren Bravo, goes by the rule #30Wears. This means before you buy anything, ask yourself: ‘will I wear this 30 times?’ ‘It doesn’t have to be 30 times in a year, it could be a few years or even decades – but if the honest answer is ‘no’, then you probably shouldn’t buy it.’

Another great way to shop more sustainably is by purchasing second-hand clothing. Depop and eBay are great platforms for this.

For more information on Fashion Revolution click here:


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