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10 Top Insights on Fast Fashion: Can It Realistically Be Avoided?

The debate on fast and slow fashion continues on a popular Internet forum, with both sides showing up for the brands and styles they support. Whether you prefer the democratization of high fashion style with a low price point or sustainable but more conservative, long-wearing clothing, some people are on your side and ready to debate each style’s merits.

This conversation started when someone asked for recommendations for clothing brands that are not fast fashion after reading up on the trend. They sought to make their lifestyle more sustainable and, while researching, became convinced that it was impossible to avoid fast fashion as they believed that most retail brands only sold that type of clothing.

It was frustrating for them, and they lamented the situation by saying, “I can’t imagine any major retailer NOT being fast fashion. And if that’s the case, what’s the point of trying to avoid it? Unless it’s online, fast fashion is all I have access to in person.”

Image Credit: Pexels.

1. How Disposable Is Fast Fashion?

The assumption is that all fast fashion is quickly used and disposed of, but is that true? A fast fashion lover claimed, “I feel like a fast fashion top that you buy and use for five years is more sustainable than a slow fashion top that gets replaced yearly. Just because something is fast fashion doesn’t mean you must treat it as such.”

Other commenters mentioned their love of clothing from The Gap that also fits their bodies better than other brands.

2. Quality Counts

What is fast fashion anyway? A commenter entered the fray with a definition that they believed explained what the phrase means. “For me, fast fashion typically means items that will only last 1-2 seasons.

In college, I bought some H&M tops that got holes within a few months. This taught me that it may seem like the price is right, but you can end up paying more in the long run.” Still, the person had better luck with Old Navy rain jackets. They lasted longer and wore well.

Read next: How to Shop for Sustainable & Ethical Fashion – Expert Tips

3. Are All Big Brands Fast Fashion?

But are big brands really fast fashion, and do the buyer’s actions make any clothing fast fashion were two interesting points that were brought up in the debate. This user said, “If a brand makes good quality clothing (or if you take care of your clothes), then that isn’t fast fashion.

I think nowadays, though, fast fashion is also associated with brands that are also not ethically sourced (made by children, underpaid workers, exploitation, etc.) and not necessarily just clothes that are/will be easily disposed of.”

4. Is the Label Fast Fashion Classist and Sexist?

Ask yourself why people seem to dislike inexpensive clothing. Is it because they are less sustainable, or do they have an antipathy towards brands that make it so poor people can afford fashionable knockoff styles?

A person put forth this argument, “There’s an element of classism that permeates conversations about fast fashion, which based on its very definition (quickly mass-produced garments that replicate “high fashion” designs) is a class-based distinction between “the clothes normal people can access/afford versus the designer rich people clothing.”

They stated, “There are genuine environmental and ethical concerns with the fashion industry. But I find that shaming women and folks in the lower socioeconomic classes rather than the systems that create those environmental impacts and foster poor working conditions in the first place.”

5. Putting the Blame Where It Belongs

Similarly, another user responded that while good intentions are laudable, systemic problems cannot be solved solely by individuals with good intentions. These issues must be solved by those who have the power to solve them, like the brands themselves and our governments.

Their wise comment was, “You can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and environmental disaster and labor exploitation aren’t challenges that can be solved by personal purity.” Several commenters echoed these sentiments.

Read next: 9 Awesome Sustainable Travel Clothing Brands for Women & Men

6. What Are The True Issues With Modern Clothing Production Anyway?

More than one user questioned the issues with modern clothing production, and this response was worth noting. It observes that the most significant problems are the number of natural resources it takes to create clothing, labor policies that rely on near-slave wages to deliver cheap prices for wealthier nations and a mindset where cheap clothing is disposable.

7. When Do Clothes Need To Be Washed?

On sustainability, a viable concern is how often clothes need washing since the quality of clothing is degraded somewhat every time they are washed. Our society believes that clothes need cleaning after one use, but is that idea correct? Concerned commenters questioned that logic and one said, “One thing I’ve found over the years that really helps is washing your clothes less often.

Certainly, all clothing has to be washed eventually, but I think a lot of times we throw things in the laundry basket after wearing them once without really considering if they actually need to be washed at that point in time.”

8. How Versatile Is That New T-shirt?

To avoid buying clothing that will sit unused in your closet, a person suggested three rules their sister posed, “Will I re-wear this? Can this be styled with other things? How versatile is this?” Yet another person stated their rule: they needed to identify three other pieces in the closet I could wear with the new garment, with certain exceptions. It is solid advice for people on the fence about buying an item of clothing that they are unsure they need or have an impulse to buy.

Read next: Reusing the Clothes Already in My Closet – Tips and Tricks

9. Thrift Stores Are a Great Bet

In the past, people mocked others shopping for clothing at thrift stores. Sometimes they believed that the clothes were dirty or undesirable. Things have changed, and thrifting or buying from secondhand retailers is fashionable. An overwhelming number of users were solidly behind thrifting to avoid buying clothes that would not last. A top-rated comment said, “The best way to avoid fast fashion is to buy secondhand.”

Read next: 30+ Online Thrift Shops for the Best Secondhand Clothing & Accessories

10. “Old Lady” Brands Are Winners

People sometimes need to remember brands that aren’t trendy and those that are seen as unfashionable or for the older set. This fantastic comment said it all, “look for stores with “elevated basics,” like Talbots, Eileen Fisher, J Jill. These are all kind of “old lady” stores, but I like them because their clothes are high-quality, last for years, and have their own understated style that doesn’t really go with the trend of the moment.” 

This thread inspired this post. 


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