We Get The Facts Straight About Sustainable Fashion VS Fast Fashion

Sustainable fashion is a hot buzzword you’ve probably heard thrown around everywhere these days. The movement is super on-trend, with clothing brands racing to jump on board the sustainable fashion bandwagon. But what does sustainable fashion mean? And what’s the difference between sustainable fashion VS fast fashion? We’ve got the answers! 

Girl wearing sunglasses thinking about sustainable fashion VS fast fashion.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

In a nutshell, sustainable fashion refers to clothing created and used in sustainable, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly ways. That includes all steps in the manufacturing process from designing, sourcing, and distributing. The goal of sustainable fashion is to create clothing ethically, without leaving a negative carbon footprint.

What is Fast Fashion?

On the other hand, Fast Fashion is clothing that’s designed, created, and consumed quickly. The garments are trendy, cheap, and churned out with a short turnaround time to meet consumer demand.

The clothing mirrors what is currently on-trend and is produced at a fast rate, so consumers buy it while it’s still hot. Then, once the trend passes, it’s usually thrown out after only a few wears when the consumer moves onto the latest “in” items. Fast fashion plays into the idea that you must rock the latest trends to stay relevant or be fashionable.

The Real Difference Between Sustainable Fashion VS Fast Fashion

Sustainable Fashion

  • Sustainable fashion companies are usually completely transparent about their practices helping you feel good about investing in quality, ethical items. 
  • Unlike fast fashion, sustainable fashion brands release only a few collections throughout the year with small quantities of stock. 
  • Sustainable fashion brands often use raw, organic materials that have little to no impact on the planet, reducing harmful pollutants.
  • Sustainable clothing is often labeled under the Fair Trade Act – guaranteeing no sweatshops were involved in the manufacturing, and the working conditions were safe.

Fast Fashion

  • The fast fashion industry uses cheap, toxic textile dyes, making it the second-largest polluter of the world’s clean water sources.
  • Fast fashion creates massive textile waste due to the speed at which clothes are produced and then disposed of by consumers.
  • Since fast fashion creates low-cost clothing, they often use cheap materials like polyester. Polyester can shed microfiber plastics when washed, which contributes to the level of plastic in our oceans.
  • The garment workers in fast fashion often work for low wages in dangerous conditions. They’re frequently overworked, trying to keep up with the speed of mass production.

How to Make Your Wardrobe Sustainable

Support Sustainable Clothing Brands

I know it might be difficult to cut ties with Zara and H&M and their super affordable forever-changing clothing racks. But by supporting sustainable clothing brands, you can feel good about putting your dollar towards ethical, forward-thinking fashion. 

Some of our go-to sustainable clothing brands are Reformation for feminine, romantic dresses. House of Sunny for funky, up-to-the-minute prints. And Girlfriend Collective for comfortable but chic activewear. 

Buy Less But Buy Quality

I get that sustainable clothing may not be as affordable as fast fashion. But, there is no denying that the quality is a cut above the rest. Think about it like this. You buy a $5 t-shirt from H&M, and the threads start pulling after a few wears. You throw it out and buy another $5 tee. The cycle repeats, and more money is spent. 

But what if you bought a quality $35 tee from a sustainable clothing brand that’ll last you years? Buying less but buying high-quality items might end up saving you money in the long run. Plus, it’s less waste in our landfills.

Organize a Clothing Swap

When’s the last time you wore that blazer collecting dust in the back of your closet? Or those shoes stashed under your bed? A super fun way to make your wardrobe more sustainable is to organize a clothing swap with your girlfriends!

Have everyone bring their unwanted clothes and go crazy finding your new favorite get-up. That way, your clothes won’t sit there collecting dust, AND you won’t waste money having to go out and buy new outfits. Voilà!

Thrift and Shop Vintage

A treasure trove of unique, one-off items are waiting to be discovered in your local thrift store or flea market! It’s the perfect way to make your wardrobe more sustainable and reduce the environmental impact of your shopping habit.

There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of finding a piece that fit’s like a glove and knowing no one else will own it. Want to shop second-hand from the comfort of your home? Sites like Depop, Poshmark, and eBay make shopping vintage easy and accessible.

Need help styling your new thrifted strapless summer dress? We’ve got you!

Styling a strapless summer dress - girl wearing a strapless summer dress with sunglasses.

Rent Your Clothes

The next time you go to buy an expensive dress for a work function that you’ll only wear once, rent it instead! By renting over buying, we reduce the huge amount of textile waste that ends up in our landfills each year.

Sites like Rent The Runway and Style Lend are just a few options in this booming industry. Renting a special occasion piece lets you play dress up in an item you don’t have to splurge on or commit to. Plus, you still look dazzling for your fancy event. Everybody wins.

Sustainable Fashion VS Fast Fashion

When it comes to sustainable fashion VS fast fashion, there is no question that sustainable fashion is paving the way for a better future. Not only in sustainability but in making the fashion industry more conscious, environmentally friendly, and ethical.

As consumers, what we can do is be mindful of our consumption of clothing. Consider the impact that tee from H&M has on the environment before adding it to your cart. And the next time you want to indulge your shopping habit, hit up the thrift store instead!

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About Jurnee

Jurnee is a writer and creative from New Zealand passionate about covering health, wellness, and fashion.