You may have seen this term around the internet recently. But what exactly is fast fashion, and what should it mean to you? Look no further for all the details.

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is clothing that quickly grabs the hottest fashion trends straight from the runway. Fast fashion clothing brands focus on mass-producing tons of new, on-trend items as rapidly as possible.

What’s the problem with that?

Well, there are a bunch of problems with fast fashion. Let's break it down:
  • Poor Quality- Since fast fashion brands are focused on mass-producing as many clothes as possible, they're not necessarily focusing on the quality of the clothes they produce. Fast fashion clothes may be cheaper, but they certainly won't last you as long as something well-made.
  • Manipulative- Fast fashion clothes are made to be very on-trend, which sounds great, right? Actually, that's part of how they get you. Fast fashion brands know that soon after you buy their trendy clothes, they'll go out of style and you'll buy new ones. It seems great that these clothes are affordable, but the prices don't seem as great if you keep buying new ones every few months.
  • Unsustainable- Fast fashion brands create a whole lot of waste. Not only do their customers throw out their clothes frequently, but large amounts of unpurchased clothes go to waste as well. And where do all these unused clothes actually go? Most of the time, they end up in a landfill in another country. Even if you donate your old clothes to a thrift store, chances are, a lot of them will end up going to waste.
  • Unethical- A lot of fast fashion clothing is made in factories and sweatshops in third world countries that treat workers very poorly. Often times, the employees are forced to endure unsafe working conditions and don't make anything close to living wages.

What are some popular fast fashion brands?

Bad news: chances are, some of your favorite clothing brands are probably fast fashion companies. Some well-known culprits are Forever 21, H&M, Zara, and Topshop. Plenty of other clothing brands also use unethical and unsustainable manufacturing processes.

What can I do about it?

You can stop supporting fast fashion! Instead of going on shopping sprees at fast fashion stores, you can invest in a few high-quality items from ethical and sustainable brands. It may sound daunting, but "slow fashion" clothing items will be well worth your investment. They may be less trendy, but they'll better reflect your personal style. Plus, there's something special about loving and valuing every clothing item in your closet.

Where can I buy slow fashion?

Slow fashion is great, but the prices can get pretty steep. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable ways to shop sustainably! One of the best, tried-and-true ways is to start thrifting. Buying used clothes is a great way to do your part to minimize waste. Plus, it can be really fun! If thrifting doesn't work out for you, consignment shops usually offer a more curated, smaller selection of stylish secondhand clothing.

Thanks to the internet, now you can even thrift without leaving the comfort of your own home! Thrift websites like thredup.com and swap.com make thrifting a lot easier. Individual sellers are also able to create their own online secondhand stores on apps like Depop and Poshmark.

Is there anything else I can do?

Yes! A great way to shop and own clothes more sustainably and ethically is to simply be a little more picky about the clothes you buy and wear. Next time you go shopping (even if it's at a fast fashion store), think a little harder about your purchase. Try using the rule of 3's: will you still want to wear this item in 3 weeks? How about 3 months? 3 years? Ask yourself, how often are you actually going to wear this item? It's always a great idea to be more thoughtful about your purchases.

It can be easy to forget that each of us makes a small impact on this earth, and the individual choices we make can amount to a substantial difference. There are lots of ways we can make an effort to be more sustainable and ethical in our daily lives. Whether you take many of these tips, just one, or if you simply continue researching the topic, you are doing your part to help take care of our world.