Slow Fashion vs. Fast Fashion

Let’s talk business

Author: Clara Tuckey


Before we dive in, please know that this post will cover the basic definitions and business models of fast and slow fashion. When I say basic, I mean the bare bones, nuts and bolts, white cotton T-shirt kind of basic. It’s important to know that the fashion industry is complex—and that this article is just a small exploration that will hopefully inspire curiousity, and further research.

Let’s begin with what fast fashion is to the customer or consumer (perhaps you!). Fast fashion means low prices, quick turnover of collections and products, extremely trendy outfits, and in the end, disposable items that go out of style or wear out quickly.

The quality and price of the garments keeps the customer in a non-stop loop of buying, wearing 1-10 times and then disposing. When you think about it, that’s a lot of your money and time wasted, not to mention a massive blow to your home, planet earth.

The thing is, even though you’re paying less for each individual clothing item, you are paying more in the long run. In order to keep up with trends and to avoid having holes, stains and unavoidable wear on your clothing, you will need to replace it more often.

This gives even more profit to the massive corporations and billionaire owners and CEOs, with most items having somewhere between a 40-80% markup;

For example, if the shirt you bought from “Urban Style” is $12.99, the company likely make somewhere between $5-10—now think about if 50 “Urban Style” locations sold 50 of these shirts each at 80% markup, that would be a $25,000 profit. Keep in mind that the shirt is only one item in a massive collection of items that are turned over weekly and oftentimes sold globally.

The low cost not only affects you as a consumer, but it affects the garment workers, textile farmers and manufacturers who do not make a living wage and are stuck in a state of poverty. If the massive corporations refuse to eat the cost of manufacturing, someone else has to.

Most consumers are aware of the cruel nature of cheap offshore manufacturing, but it is hard to imagine when you cannot see it—when you’re in a big, bright white store with happy music, neatly folded piles of colourful sweaters and posing mannequins and models dressed in all the latest trends. This is exactly how fast fashion companies want to you feel when shopping; they are aware that if you were to actually see the inside of a factory in Bangladesh or Vietnam, you would definitely not want to support their brand.

Perhaps most importantly, our home, planet earth experiences a great deal of environmental damage from the fast fashion industry. We are extracting resources such as oil (which makes plastic and polyester textiles) way faster than we can afford to—there is only so much oil on earth, and most of it is underneath rare and fragile habitats like rainforests, oceans and polar regions.

Over-farming and air and waterway pollution is also essential to cheap manufacturing—but it will not last. We cannot keep up with this model, there are not enough natural resources and there is too much environmental damage contributing to climate change.

You’ve probably heard it a million times already, but we have to change. This change does not have to happen overnight, and will not be perfect. We must start small, with ourselves individually, eventually progressing to a larger movement. This is where the slow fashion business model comes in.

Slow fashion is a model that is grounded in sustainability, ethical manufacturing, and intentional design. Each step in the production and sale of a garment is carefully considered, with emphasis placed on respect for the planet, workers, designers and material. Slow fashion is carefully designed to be functional and timeless, made of sustainable, high-quality materials and manufactured by individuals who are paid a living wage and experience good working conditions. The care that is taken to produce these garments causes slow fashion to be SLOW—and that’s exactly how it should be! The planet deserves to be protected, workers deserve a living wage and you deserve beautiful high-quality clothing that fits and lasts. 

By the way, slow fashion does not just include purchasing new clothing, but it also includes thrifting and upcycling! Here at WORTH, we are experts in upcycling. We take end-of-use clothing destined for landfills and create new garments that are well designed and manufactured locally by skilled workers who are paid a living wage. As well, zero-waste production is important to us, we use every last scrap, patch and cutoff to create new, high quality, functional styles for everyone.

If you are interested in our company, or the sustainable fashion industry altogether, follow us on Instagram @see_the_worth and Facebook @seetheworth Be sure to check out our SHOP for our latest styles.

We are a small and growing business committed to the slow fashion revolution and fashion education - your continued support and allyship means so much to us.

Thanks for reading!


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