Breaking the Fast Fashion Habit
What is Fast Fashion?
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.
Finding Alternatives to Fast Fashion
You don’t need to avoid shopping completely when you’re learning how to end fast fashion. In fact, buying second hand, vintage, or thrifted clothes is one of the best ways to stop unwanted garments from going to landfill. As the old saying goes, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” and it couldn’t be more true. You’d be surprised at the gems you can find when you’re rummaging through the racks at your favorite local vintage store.
If you know exactly what you’re looking for, try searching on resale sites like Poshmark, thredUp, or Depop. Vestiaire Collective and The RealReal are great for luxury and designer brands if that’s more your style! Some designers like Mara Hoffman also offer marketplaces to keep items from past seasons in circulation.
Clothing rental services
Renting your entire wardrobe might not be practical for your day-to-day clothes, but it’s the perfect alternative to buying a one-time outfit for a special occasion or event. Companies like Rent The Runway, Nuuly, and Armoire specialize in everything from luxury wedding guest looks to workwear that keeps you feeling your best.
Because of all the shipping back and forth, rental companies may not be the most sustainable option – but it’s a great way to move towards a no-fast-fashion lifestyle. Most rental companies offer monthly memberships that allow you to choose a fixed number of garments, along with adding alternative sizes for those “I’m just not sure if this is going to fit me right” moments. If you fall in love with something, you can always make a purchase later.
We all have at least a few items hanging in our closet that will probably never be worn again. Spend a weekend clearing out your closet and building a collection of clothes that you’re happy to say goodbye to and then invite some friends over to trade your finds.
Not only are wardrobe swaps a great way to get new clothes for free, it saves potentially hundreds of garments from becoming trash and damaging the environment. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to catch up with friends over a glass of wine and some snacks!
Caring for what you have
With years of treasured wear usually comes the odd hole that needs fixing. Learning simple mending techniques will give you extra years with your garment, says Amy. “If caught early, a slight tear can be stitched with just a needle and thread. Learning how to repair garments is fairly easy and you can find plenty of YouTube videos on how to stitch a seam closed if you’ve never done it before.”
Always check the label to find out what your clothes are made from and launder delicate materials by hand. Amy mentions that “to avoid odor sinking in, I like to quickly rinse my blouses and lightweight dresses at the end of the day with some gentle laundry soap and hang them to dry on a coat hanger. That way it’s clean and ready to go!”
Building a capsule wardrobe
Capsule wardrobes are the perfect way to avoid decision fatigue and save time when you’re getting dressed each day. You’ll feel encouraged when you break the cycle of fast fashion every time you invest in quality pieces that you can wear and love for decades, like our handcrafted Printfresh pajamas.
What are some of your favorite ways to avoid following fast fashion and keeping your wardrobe more sustainable? Leave a comment to let us know!