The term “fast fashion” has been used for decades and describes the now widely-practiced process where mainstream clothing companies make significant profits by replicating designer looks, on minimal budgets and with no credit to the original creator. These low-cost options are turned around quickly to be available to the everyday consumer so that they can keep up with the latest trends at an affordable price.
With technology advances, fast fashion companies are now able to make thousands of garments in half the amount of time for a much cheaper price – but there are significant ethical and environmental consequences that come with cutting corners to beat out competitors. Synthetic materials like polyester take hundreds of years to decompose, which is a huge problem when trends move so quickly that last week’s trend becomes next week’s trash.
But it’s not only the materials that are the problem here. When fast fashion companies focus solely on profit and production timelines, garment workers are increasingly exploited in order to deliver the final product at low prices and as quickly as possible. Workers are often significantly underpaid or entrapped in forced labor and all too often, consumers are left in the dark about what’s really happening to the people who are making the clothes they wear every day.
That’s why we like to work a little differently at Printfresh. Our founders Amy and Leo Voloshin are passionate about ensuring that our products are crafted with minimal impact, by partnering with manufacturers whose workers have freely chosen employment and safe, hygienic working conditions. Additionally, about 90% of our items are produced using 100% organic GOTS cotton to keep harmful runoff from traditional manufacturing processes from harming workers' health and damaging neighboring communities. As a clothing company we must be accountable, but, as Amy says, “there’s plenty of opportunity for us all to look at our own habits and to take personal responsibility for what we buy and where we choose to shop.”
Speedy turnarounds of cheap products may have a hold on the industry for now, but it’s possible to find alternatives to fast fashion that are better for all of us; for consumers, for workers, and for our planet.