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What You Should Know Before Purchasing from Fast Fashion Brands

Among all my friends, I know I am the least to shop online. I didn’t buy clothes off the internet until I was a junior in high school because my family preferred to try on clothes before purchasing them. I don’t online shop for clothes unless I know my specific size at a particular store but I know my friends like to spend their free time finding things on shops like Shein, Zara, Forever 21, Pretty Little Thing, and Lulus. 

I know I could find something cute and cheap if I shopped for a top or swimsuit at a company like Shein but have stopped myself from purchasing clothes on their website after learning more about fast fashion. I learned more about the topic in one of my classes last semester and realized how bad it is for the environment. Knowing what a negative impact it can do for the environment has been a great factor on my own restrictions from purchasing things from fast fashion companies. 

I wanted to briefly explain what fast fashion is and what companies you could alternate your shopping habits to for more sustainable and environment friendly clothing. 

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What is Fast Fashion? It is cheap, trendy clothes that go from being displayed through catwalks to being in clothing stores to meet consumer high demands. Clothing brands quickly create new clothing trends and begin selling them for affordable prices. Many companies including Shein, Zara, and H&M are large companies that are known for fast fashion. 

Although fast fashion is the notion of bringing out new clothing trends every few weeks or months, a lot of people don’t know the negative sides of what fast fashion does for the environment and for labor workers creating all the clothes in factories. 

Most of the trending clothes at keep re-appearing on social media through advertisements and posts are made with the clothing fabric, polyester. A huge disadvantage of constantly using this material is the action of shedding microfibers that add an increasing amount of plastic in our oceans. 

While more clothes are being produced, it also means that consumers are dumping and disposing their old clothes creating textile waste. Textile waste builds up when textile companies continuously run their engines that run on coal which dump chemicals into the water. 

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Not only does fast fashion result in harming the environment, it affects the labor workers in the manufacturing factories. Most of the workers are women who work countless hours with little pay and are exposed to dangerous chemicals. Many toxic chemicals could negatively impact workers’ physical and mental health. Not only are humans impacted by fast fashion, animals are too. The dyes and microfibers released in our waterways harm many animals in the ocean. 

I believe that fast fashion brands should be aware and change how they manufacture their clothes so they don’t harm the environment and should start to use recycled products and plastic to create more trends. 

There have been a lot of large companies that began doing eco-friendly and recycling manufacturing to help the environment. Not only are they using recyclable material for their clothing, they are not causing harm to the environment by producing their items. 

I researched some companies who practice eco-friendly manufacturing and want to recommend some alternative stores for women to shop at for clothes. 

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  • Patagonia 

Patagonia is known for producing their clothing using recycled material. The company values saving the planet and has a program called “Worn Wear” where customer can purchase, wear, and recycle their gear for others to wear after they are done with their item. The program provides “significant resources for responsible care, repair, reuse and resale, and recycling at the end of a garment’s life.” Instead of customers disposing of their Patagonia apparel to be added to landfill waste, they can sell, repair, and exchange their gear with others through the program. 


  • Madewell 

Madewell has a program where customers could repair, reuse, and recycle their jeans. They want to make jeans last longer while keeping denim out of landfills. People can bring their old jeans to a store for patching, mending, and other fixes. Not only could people get their jeans fixed, they could resell them or purchase a new, used pair of jeans. Within their program, they have donated more 800,000 pairs of jeans and are using sustainable materials or Do Well materials for their various collections. 


  • Levi’s 

Levi’s is designing some of their clothing pieces with recycled plastics and are reducing landfill waste. Not only are they using sustainable material, they are allowing people to repair, reimagine, and recycle their jeans at the tailor shop. Overall, the brand is trying to use less water while manufacturing their clothes and are making their clothes with WellThread so they reduce harming the environment. 

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  • People Tree

People Tree make their garments from environmentally friendly materials including Fairtrade certified organic cotton and natural dyes. To avoid polluting substances, they use Global Organic Textile Standard Cotton (GOTS) and azo free dyes, use materials that are biodegradable, source supplies who prioritise protection for the environment, and protect water supplies. All their denim is made from organic cotton and are using lenzing certified TENCEL, a sustainable fibre which transform wood pulp into cellulosic fibres with high resource efficiency and low environmental impact. 


  • Reformation 

Reformation is continuing to reduce their carbon footprint and are investing in solutions that remove more greenhouse gasses than they emit. Their plan is to become climate positive by 2025 by investing in renewable energy and using regenerative fibers that are sourced from farms that use climate positive agricultural and land management practices that restore the soil instead of disturbing it. They will launch their first regenerative fiver collection in the beginning of 2021 and will commit to sourcing 10% of their materials from regenerative fibers by 2025.


I know that although people may be more aware of fast fashion, they may continue to shop at online stores for their cute and trendy clothes. Although they may still shop at fast fashion brands, I hope they can make fewer purchases and try to find more eco-friendly brands to get their new clothes to help save the environment after learning more about the topic.

Hi, I'm Wonbin Park. I'm currently a senior studying Journalism and Photography major at the University of Kansas. I have a passion for photography and writing and hope to become a photojournalist in the future! My hobbies include photography, drinking coffee, watching K-Dramas with my friends and family!
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