Fast Fashion vs. Slow Fashion
Clothing used to be something that people put a lot of time and thought into. If you wanted a dress, you had to go out and buy the pattern, search for the right fiber or material, and then sew the dress yourself. When the Industrial Revolution came about, access to clothing became much easier, quicker, and cheaper. In the 1960s, 95% of our clothing was made in the United States. Fast forward to today, less than 3% of our clothing is manufactured in the United States. And now you can go out and buy a dress for $5 if you’re a really good bargain hunter. $5?!? As an apparel designer, that baffles me because I know more time, energy, and cost went into making that dress.
Fast fashion is defined as “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” Fast fashion is just that - fast. Meaning clothing is produced quickly, cheaply, and poorly. Trendy clothes available at ridiculously low prices. The effect of fast fashion is that consumers have access to a wider variety of clothing at a much lower price. Consumers believe that they’re saving money, but they’re also buying more. I understand the thought process of, “Oh, but it’s on sale and I’ll only be spending $25 for a pair of pants! It’s so cheap!” But when we’re not conscious of where are clothes are coming from or what went in to making them, our purchases can add up. We buy more of a lesser quality product. Because the product was poorly made, it doesn’t hold up as well and has to be thrown out sooner. Consequently, clothing also has less meaning and can be discarded after only a couple of wears. It’s estimated that consumers throw out 50-80 pounds of products each year. In doing so, we are polluting our environment and contributing to landfills.
In order to reduce costs and speed up production time, corners are cut. Cheap textiles like polyester are used, as well as toxic dyes and materials. Garment manufacturers work in dangerous environments with low wages.
Slow fashion, on the other hand, advocates for principles such as good quality, clean environment, and fairness for both consumers and producers. Slow fashion production ensures quality manufacturing to lengthen the life of the garment. In the long run, one garment that is well produced and of good quality, is going to last much longer than a piece that was cheaply produced. On top of that, when you save for and invest in good quality pieces, they have more meaning to you. Now I know what you’re thinking. Better quality doesn’t always have to mean more expensive. I think you’d be surprised that when you consciously decide to only invest in and purchase ethically made clothing, you often spend about the same amount that you would when purchasing fast fashion items because you’re not buying as much.
I like what Patrick Woodyard said in his TEDx Talk. “Let’s return fashion to what it once was.” Fashion is about art. It’s about people. It’s about valuing the producer and the planet and ourselves as the consumer.
At Jenny C Brooks Designs, each garment is made-to-order and thoughtfully sewn here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After an order is placed, I single-handedly cut out each pattern piece, reducing fabric waste. All of the pieces are assembled by myself to ensure that every piece is well made.