What is ‘Fast Fashion’?
Fast Fashion is clothing produced in large volumes in low quality materials very quickly, by people who often have few other alternatives for work.
In 2015, John Thornbeck (Chairman of retail analysts Chainge Capital) described Fast Fashion as ‘the rapid translation of design trends into multi-channel volume.’
The result is poor quality clothing of low durability, bought and discarded by the consumer at an equally fast rate.
When did Fast Fashion really begin to take hold?
You could argue when exactly clothing started to become more accessible and seen less as a luxury in our society. However, an important event to consider in terms of today’s unprecedented levels of clothing consumption is the implementation, over a 10-year period from 1995 to 2005, of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC).
This agreement gradually changed the rules around how much clothing and textiles could be imported into any given country. Before the ATC was implemented, there were limits on volume of imports of clothing and textiles, but by the end of its implementation in 2005, there were none.
These new rules enabled brands worldwide to access cheap labour and to produce and sell clothing in unlimited amounts, and at lower costs than ever before.
What’s wrong with Fast Fashion?
Throughout today’s complex and fragmented clothing supply chains, people and the environment are compromised for the sake of cheap clothing.
- Cheaper and often less sustainable processing and manufacturing processes are employed to make clothing
- Workers in the supply chain are underpaid and do not have access to basic facilities/rights that would cost an employer money
- Items are produced in very high volumes, driving down the production cost and giving us access to unprecedented amounts of cheap clothing which we end up throwing away
- The way in which these garments are made often renders them non-biodegradable and non-recyclable
Want to read more about Fast Fashion?
Good articles to read on the concept of Fast Fashion:
Is British Fast Fashion Too Fast? (racked.com, May 17)
Livia Firth explores the true cost of Fast Fashion on the environment (teenvogue.com, Apr 17)
Is Fast Fashion a class issue? (refinery29.uk, Apr 17)
Fast Fashion, mass manufacturing and meaningful work (huffingtonpost.co.uk, Feb 17)
Do You Think Fast Fashion Can Ever Be Ethical? (ethicaltrade.org, Sep 16)
Why Despite My Best Efforts Even My Friends Buy Fast Fashion (medium.com, Sep 16)