What’s Wrong With Fast Fashion?

wrong with fast fashion

It’s trendy and cool right now, but what about next year or even next week? Buying into trends is not only bad for the planet but it’s also an easy way to sacrifice your personal style. Here is everything that’s wrong with fast fashion.

We see trends come and go faster than seasons. Most fast fashion brands release new collections every 2-3 weeks. That is a huge amount of clothing that may or may not go unworn. Do you know where those clothes end up when they sit on the rack for too long? Have you ever considered how much that $10 pair of pants cost to make and how much the garment maker was paid?

What’s wrong with fast fashion is that there is a common belief that more is better. However, the opposite is true. Buying more, more often doesn’t mean you are buying better. Additionally, buying clothes from fast fashion companies is a surefire way to sacrifice your own personal style without even realizing it.

Definition of Fast Fashion

The formal definition of fast fashion is a business model that mass-produces clothing at low costs. It describes the industry as well as the products within a business model. Essentially, fast fashion is cheap clothing that is made very quickly in order to keep up with rapidly changing trends.

It has been around a long time, some say it began in the 90’s with Zara and Forever 21. However, that isn’t necessarily the case. The United States began outsourcing manufacturing in the late 1960’s after the WWII. The new consumer era began around the same time as well. It was considered patriotic to buy more and buy American, even though products were being made overseas. 

What’s Wrong With Fast Fashion?

It’s not just that the clothes are cheap and low quality. It is also that the industry contributes huge amounts of pollution and consumes devastating amounts of water. Additionally, the fast fashion industry has a nasty reputation of taking advantage of garment workers.


This industry has a massive carbon footprint that continues to grow annually as demand increases. Carbon emissions are from production, transportation and waste. The fast fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the annual global carbon emissions. By 2030, it will be over 50%.

It’s not just carbon emissions either, it’s waste. 87% of the clothing is incinerated of thrown in a landfill. That is an insane amount of clothing to throw away.

Human Rights

It’s not just the environment that this industry is affecting. Fast fashion has a reputation for unsafe and even abusive work environments. The 2013 Rana Plaza Disaster killed over 1000 garment workers and is just one example of how unsafe this industry is.

In addition to the working conditions, the extremely low pay is a huge human rights violation. Think about it, how much are you paying for a top, now consider how much of that goes to the person who made it. Pennies.

Water Usage

Not only does it require huge amounts of water to make the clothing, there is also devastating water pollution as well. A byproduct of textile factories is untreated waste water. It contains lead, mercury and arsenic all of which are extremely dangerous to human and marine life.

In Bangladesh alone, 22,000 tons of toxic waste goes straight into waterways annually.  Additionally, it takes 3,781 liters of water to make one pair of jeans. Just imagine the environmental impact from everything in your wardrobe currently.


Every stage of textile and clothing production involves dangerous chemicals. They don’t go away once we buy them in the store either. A lot of these chemicals leach into our skin and the environment. Even if a garment is 100% natural fiber.

The Greenpeace Detox Campaign found 11 chemicals that are common in clothing production that cause hormone disruptions and cancer. There are studies that show that chemicals in children’s clothes can be found in the child’s urine 5 days after 1 wear.

Personal Style

Personal style is the way you choose to express yourself and many do that with the clothes they wear. When you buy into fast fashion trends you are buying the most popular at the time. This is like being dressed by a company and letting them dictate how you want to present yourself.

Self expression if important for mental health. We live in a world with unrealistic beauty and financial standards. Just because you buy more for less doesn’t mean you are being your true authentic self. It shows that you know how to blend in and bend to the ideals of someone else.

How To Avoid Fast Fashion

Now that we know what’s wrong with fast fashion, we have to learn how to avoid it. We all love a shopping trip from time to time. However, it is more cost effective and sustainable to buy better, less frequently. Here are some tips for ditching fast fashion.

Do Your Research

Do your research! What’s wrong with fast fashion isn’t just about the companies making the garments, it’s about the consumers who aren’t challenging their standards. Take all the stores you frequently shop at and see if you can find out who their manufacturers are. Once you do that you can learn more about their production techniques and how they treat their employees.

Quality Vs.  Quantity

Buy quality instead of quantity. This means buy better, less often instead of buying more for less more often. When you buy better you may face a high up front cost, but that product will last longer and save you money in the long run. Additionally, buying quality products is better for you and the planet.

When you shop do the 30 wears test. All it involves is honestly asking yourself “will I wear this 30+ times?” If you aren’t 100%, don’t buy it. Only buy things you know you will get use out of.

Personal Style Vs. Trending Styles

Be confident in your personal style! Wear clothes that represent you, not someone else. Trends come and go almost weekly. It is impossible to keep up and an easy way to go broke trying. Express yourself with clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident.

whats wrong with fast fashion
Francois Le Nguyen
@flenguyen | Abandoned Factory

Bottom Line

There are many reasons to ditch the fast fashion trends all together. Not only is an easy way to sell out your personal identity, but it’s just terrible for the environment. Even things that are made from 100% natural fiber contain harmful chemicals.

Look for clothing companies that are honest about their manufacturing processes. Shop local and support local boutiques. This is how you put money back into your local economy and support small businesses at the same time. Additionally, take the time to consider your own personal environmental impact. It’s what we all need to do because climate change is accelerating and it’s going to take a global effort to combat it.

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