From Fast Fashion to Slow Fashion!

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion (literally translated “fast fashion”) is a phenomenon of our time. Where we used to do for years with a winter coat or jeans, fashion now changes several times per season. We get tired of what we buy faster and keep wanting to buy more clothes. In short, the characteristics of fast fashion are:
  • Clothing is produced as cheaply as possible
  • A high turnover rate: multiple fashion trends per season
  • Production in low-wage countries
  • Often environmentally unfriendly production
  • Even expensive clothes can be fast fashion!
This Fast fashion industry has created a new standard of very cheap clothing. This is of course good for the wallet, but this industry has more negative consequences than we may realize.

How did the current Fast fashion industry come about?

We earn more and spend more money on clothes
The percentage of income spent on clothing in Europe has risen from 2-5% of disposable income to 10-15% of disposable income.

Continuous and rapid flow of new clothing trends
The emergence of fast fashion companies such as H&M and Zara since the 1990s has allowed consumers to become accustomed to a continuous stream of new clothing trends.

We are constantly tempted and influenced to make purchases online
Due to social media and the power of influencers, the consumer can be continuously edited through the timelines on his or her account with increasingly fast successive clothing trends.

More frequent sales and stunt prices in stores
Until 1984, the law on the restriction of the sale which stipulated that there could be a maximum of 2 times a year a sale of 19 days, following the summer and winter collection. Since the abolition of the 'law on limitation of sales' (max. 2 x a year sale) in 1984, shops are allowed to stunt with low prices all year round and consumers have become accustomed to low clothing prices.

The current fashion industry

Currently, the majority of the fashion range consists of fast fashion products. Trends change at lightning speed and fashion brands change their (cheap) collections very often. Our clothing consumption has more than doubled since the year 2000 . On average, one piece of clothing is only worn seven times . The rapidly changing fashion industry fuels a desire in us as consumers to always wear 'something new' and to keep up with the latest fashion trends.

Fast fashion clothing is often of poor quality
The big fashion chains are only concerned with one thing, profit! This profit depends on our desire to wear new clothes. So why not help this wish a little? Large chains produce hundreds of millions of garments per year. The sooner these clothes wear out, the faster we are back in the store to buy new clothes. Due to the use of textiles that have to be made cheaper and cheaper, it is the quality that we surrender first .

The production conditions under which Fast fashion clothing is made are often problematic. Around 47 million people worldwide work in the clothing industry, 85% of whom are women. The clothing is often produced in sweatshops in low-wage countries under harrowing conditions. The majority of seamstresses do not earn a living wage , resulting in inhumanely long working weeks. In Asian garment factories, seamstresses often work 60 to 90 hour weeks.

The environmental impact of fast fashion is enormous
The production of 1 cotton T-shirt requires 2500 liters of water and 20 cl of chemicals. It takes 7000 liters of water to make a pair of jeans. Global cotton production consumes 22.5% insecticide and 10% pesticide of the total amounts used worldwide. So there is production in gigantic numbers and at a high pace. Unfortunately, it is also the case that a large part of this production remains unsold. Of the 950 million items of clothing that entered the Dutch market in 2020, 790 million were sold. That means 160 million garments went unsold, which basically means wasted resources. That number is expected to increase further due to fast fashion.

Subsequently, this fast fashion clothing is often thrown away
In the Netherlands, we throw away 235 million kilograms of textiles per year, of which only 28 kilograms (2018) end up in thrift stores. Of the 40 pieces of clothing that every Dutch person throws away every year, 24 go to the waste.
All this comes with a heavy price. A price that is largely paid behind the scenes by people in developing countries and by our environment. A price that was previously invisible to consumers, but which is fortunately becoming increasingly clear.

Slow fashion is on the rise!

How can you become a more conscious consumer? It starts with educating yourself, reading up and, above all, opening yourself up to change. Buy sustainable and fair clothing! Buy local, buy second hand and buy from independent designers. When we do this together we can make a difference. Slow fashion is on the rise and the 'duffy' image surrounding it is old-fashioned.

Now that more and more attention is being paid to this subject, the Fast Fashion industry has been getting more and more criticism lately. Consumers are becoming more aware and buying fair trade clothing . In contrast, companies in this industry spend millions on campaigns to put them in a better light. They launch “conscious collections” or donate part of the proceeds to charities.

But despite these devious marketing techniques, we can't get around the truth: fast fashion is one of the dirtiest and most harmful industries in the world! To be specific: After the oil industry, the fashion industry is the most polluting industry in the world .

Together on the way to slow fashion

Fortunately, the movement of producers and consumers who want to change this burdensome fashion system is growing. No more mass production, but sustainable fashion that lasts a long time, has little impact on the environment and is produced under humane conditions.

There are more and more initiatives that, each in their own way, contribute to making the clothing industry more sustainable. We have listed a number of fashion alternatives for you. Vintage, fair, green or vegan fashion, what do you think is most important?

Vintage fashion is a sustainable alternative to fast fashion. Because if you reuse someone else's clothing, no new resources need to be used and the clothing does not have to be produced (under poor working conditions). Fortunately, the range of vintage clothing has grown considerably in recent years.

Green fashion is another alternative that contributes to the movement towards slow fashion. The main goal of green fashion is to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry. There are several ways to make fashion more sustainable. Both the quality of the clothing, the materials used, the energy consumption for production and transport are decisive for this.

If you still want to buy something new, you can focus on fashion brands that sell Fair Trade fashion . Fair Fashion focuses on fair clothing that is produced under humane conditions. This can be in a developing country, but also in the Netherlands, for example, by people with a distance to the labor market.

Choose the clothing container, not the waste bin!

Are you tired of a piece of clothing or is it worn out? Then certainly don't throw it in the trash, because there are still plenty of useful uses for it! Unfortunately, we throw in every year Netherlands about 135 million kilos of textile gone . Unfortunately, only about a quarter of this is recycled. And that while even broken clothing can still be reused. Find one container near you , or give one your bag with old clothes at an H&M store . In short, complete the slow fashion circle again!

Last but not least, take better care of the clothes you already own!

Use the right care products to care for your clothes.
Do not put your clothes in the washing machine unnecessarily, but for example run a clothes steamer over them to freshen up the fabric, or hang the fabric outside to air. Will a fabric pill? Or does it have fluff on it? Use a fabric brush or lint remover to revive the fabric. It certainly doesn't have to be thrown away. Use gentle detergent, without chemicals and harmful substances for your garment. This way the fabric will last much longer!

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