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Fast Fashion Alternatives

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PS Behrend chapter.

The fashion industry is one of the largest and most profitable industries. However, this profit comes at a price. One subset of the fashion industry, the fast fashion industry, is particularly detrimental. The name of the game in the fast fashion industry is affordability, stores like H&M, Forever 21, Zara, Primark, offer trendy clothing at startlingly low prices. Fast fashion brands mass produce clothes quickly and with a high style turnover rate, making sure the latest fashion trends are readily available for an eager clientele. 

In theory, this model sounds fantastic. The consumer can buy stylish clothes at a reasonable price and companies increase their profits. But, in the fight for popular and inexpensive clothing, something has to give. Unfortunately, fast fashion is ethically questionable and environmentally detrimental. Serious concerns have been raised about the rights of the workers producing fast fashion clothing and several studies have shown that fast fashion is causing many adverse environmental effects. So, I’ve compiled a list of alternatives shopping options for anyone that wants to avoid the fast fashion craze. 


Shop ethical brands

In direct contrast to fast fashion brands, there are several clothing brands that pride themselves on being morally and environmentally conscious. These brands make a point to source clothes from workplaces that prioritize their workers’ well being. Plus, many brands also guarantee significantly more sustainable practices in terms of environmental impact. You cand find a list of ethical and sustainable fashion brands here

Admittedly, there are drawbacks to this method of sustainability. Conscious brands are, though they are certainly growing, still a somewhat niche alternative. Generally, if someone is shopping from sustainable and/or ethical brands, they’ve made a conscious effort to seek them out. Due to the nature of these brands, their prices are usually in the more expensive range. Their higher price range and limited visibility make ethical brand shopping somewhat impractical. 

I personally have limited knowledge of this method of sustainability. I’ve relatively recently entered the world of sustainable fashion, so I’m not well versed in this particular subset. 

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Delaney Bopp

Thrifting/Buying used 

Buying second-hand clothing, once born of economic necessity, has asserted its place in the current mainstream fashion world. Once stigmatized, thrift shopping has become more widely considered a trendy and unique way to find one of a kind pieces. On top of that, it’s likely one of the most sustainable practices that exist in the fashion world. And that’s not to mention the inherently budget-friendly aspect of buying second hand. If you’re not entirely sure what thrifting is, let me clarify. Generally speaking, thrifting is the process of obtaining second-hand clothing or accessories (you can thrift for a number of different items, but for our purposes, I’ll only refer to thrifting in a clothing sense). 

There is a valid argument in regard to thrifting that I would be remiss not to mention, that is, that thrifting for fashion and/or sustainability purposes is tactless due to the fact that some people rely on thrifting and second-hand shopping out of necessity. I certainly understand this argument, however, I am also aware that several counterpoints have also been made in defense of casual thrifting.  Regardless, I found it relevant to mention that there are other arguments against this method. 

In terms of personal experience, I am significantly more knowledgeable about thrifting than buying from ethical clothing brands. For my entire life, my closet has been a hodgepodge of new and used clothing items. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about buying used clothing, it’s that there’s a process. Sifting through clothing that is not necessarily catered to specific demographics or styles can be overwhelming and disheartening. Truthfully, thrifting is an art. And I simply cannot cover its nuances in a single blog post. Feel free to comment below if you want to see a more in-depth analysis of thrift culture. 

A picture of clothes on racks at a clothing store
Prudence Earl

Do your research 

Last but not least, my final tip to combat fast fashion is to simply be more aware. Fast fashion is a serious issue, but that doesn’t mean that every mainstream and accessible fashion brand is shoddy and negligent. Asking everyone to shift their buying habits to become entirely ethical and sustainable simply isn’t pragmatic. You don’t have to buy entirely from fast fashion brands or entirely ethical and sustainable. It doesn’t have to be either-or, especially when some brands are more ethical than others. So if you’re unsure about a clothing brand’s reputation, a simple Google search will usually give you enough information to come to an educated and responsible decision. For example, Good On You is a company that gives brands an ethical score based on their unique rating system. For more information click here. For a more in-depth report about ethical fashion, click here.

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Ramsey Struble

PS Behrend '21

Penn State Behrend//Biology Pre-Optometry