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Fast Fashion: What It Is, and How To Avoid It

When you buy clothes, most of the time the determining factor is whether or not the clothing is cute, affordable, and on trend. However, do you ever think about the working conditions of the people that make your clothes? What about the environmental impact of your clothes, and how long they’ll sit in a landfill after they go out of style? Fashion makes more of an impact on society and the environment than you think it does, and this is because of fast fashion.

What is fast fashion?

“Fast fashion” is a term used by fashion retailers that means that designs move from catwalk to stores quicker than ever to fit current trends, keep up with the competition, and to make a larger profit. Although fast fashion is affordable, accessible, and trendy, the costs outweigh the benefits. Not only is it bad for the environment, because nylon and polyester are non-biodegradable, but the workers that produce the clothing are often taken advantage of. Most of the factories that produce this clothing have extremely poor and unsafe working conditions, not paying the workers nearly enough money for the work that they’re doing and doing nothing to move them above the poverty line. An extreme example of this is the Tazreen Fashions factory fire outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh. This fire in a garment factory killed over 100 people, and more were hospitalized because of burns and smoke inhalation.

Photo credits: Associated Press

As you can see, the costs of fast fashion definitely outweigh the benefits. But don’t worry; there are simple ways that everyone can reduce or stop their support of fast fashion while still being trendy and fashionable.

How to reduce your fast fashion intake


One way to cut back on clothing waste, save money, and find amazing pieces that are one of a kind is to shop second hand. There are several apps, like Depop and Poshmark, where you can both sell items you no longer want and shop from other people. Thrift stores and consignment shops, like Goodwill and Plato’s Closet, are great places to find some in-person, sweatshop free retail therapy.

2.Buying from sustainable clothing lines

Many brands have decided to open sustainable, sweatshop-free clothing lines. One brand in particular that is worth mentioning is H&M. If you check for the green tags on their clothing in the store or go to the “conscious” section on their website, you will find trendy pieces that you don’t have to feel guilty about.



3. DIY

Customizing your clothing to make it one-of-a-kind is a trend that has picked up in the fast several years. There are tons of YouTube channels that are centered around do-it-yourself fashion, and Pinterest has tons of ideas for anyone who is a little crafty and has some old clothes or thrifted pieces that they want to freshen up.

4. Shop smart

The best way to fight against fast fashion is to stay informed about what you’re buying and how it is made. DoneGood is an extension on Chrome that tells you how socially responsible a brand is when you’re shopping online. It will also suggest alternatives to name brands that may not be as responsible as others. It’s a great way to know what you are supporting when you buy a product.

5. If you must buy fast fashion, use your money wisely

Because none of us are perfect, and sometimes you just really don’t have the money or ability to not by affordable yet stylish clothing, there are some ways you can get the most out of your purchase when buying fast fashion. Buy things that will last a long time that are made well and won’t fall apart immediately. Checking the seams and edges of clothing for fraying and loose threads is a good way to check the quality of a piece. Another great tip is to buy things that you can picture fitting with five different outfits using clothes you already own. This way you know that you’ll get a lot of use out of the clothes you’re about to buy.

Using these tips, you’ll be able to build a wardrobe that looks cute and is guilt-free!

Mya Burns

Point Park '21

Junior Multimedia student at Point Park University. I love writing, reading, and photography, and I hope to one day work for a fashion magazine like Elle UK or Cosmopolitan. I am bisexual and very proud of it; I'm also active in the community and am very interested in being as informed as I possibly can be about social issues and reform.
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