WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE WHEN DO WE CHOOSE FAST OR SLOW FASHION?
When you go shopping, what makes you buy the clothes you buy?
Needless to say, consumers like you and I make purchases for varying reasons and circumstances. For instance at a shopping center, people go on a shopping spree at fashion stores not because of necessity but because of a big sale.
There are also times when pricing doesn’t matter.
Take for example that one time when you saw that apparel on display and you love everything about it from design to quality, durability and style that you were willing to pay any price to have it for yourself.
For some others, shopping decisions are simply based on comfort and functionality.
Whatever the reason is, there is more to every purchasing decision than satisfying one’s desire for new and trendy clothes.
Apparently, not many of fashion consumers and us shoppers are aware of what our purchasing decisions mean nor understand what the effects of slow and fast fashion are to our relationship with our environment, our communities and ourselves.
Should we be mindful then? And why would we?
A good friend of mine, a 72-yr old Dutch lady with a fashion taste visited me at my place the other day. The first thing I noticed was her beautiful, brown, leather coat.
When I complimented how she looked great on her new coat, she smiled and told me that she is actually wearing a 20-year old genuine leather coat!
It was indeed very expensive when she bought it 20 years ago, but it lasted throughout the years and the style still fits today.
Most importantly, not only did it stand the test of time but it has apparently also served its purpose to keep her warm and comfortable during winter days. This customer experience in terms of quality and longevity is one that characterizes what is now known as slow fashion.
For slow fashion consumers, they find more value in their purchases so their clothing collections are typically cared for, washed and repaired when necessary; there are less throwaways (if not zero waste).
Because slow fashion addresses consumers’ need for quality, longevity and style, the clothing production process has to also embody quality, longevity and style not only for the product itself but also for the lives of all stakeholders involved, including designers, workers, buyers, retailers, consumers and yes also the environment.
Hence, in the world of slow fashion, concerns for human rights (ethical fashion) and the environment (sustainable fashion) are seriously taken into consideration.
On the contrary, another good friend in her early 30s also loves following fashion trends and wishes to fill her wardrobe with clothing collections of luxury fashion brands.
However, she finds it more practical to buy the low-cost clothing that are re-recreations of the latest style and trend shown on runways by big name luxury fashion designers.
According to her, the clothes she buys from shops with industrial production perfectly fills her fashion needs; they are trendy, affordable, and easily accessible in any shopping center. This customer demand for trendy-yet-affordable clothing requires speedy production, and that’s what fast fashion is all about.
With high consumer demand for low-cost, trendy clothing, fast fashion has now become a growing phenomena and a widely used business model in today’s $3 trillion dollar garment industry.
For fast fashion consumers, what goes in and out of their wardrobe also comes like a speed of lightning because the garments are made of poor-quality materials and manufacturing.
Hence, clothes are treated like disposables. In fact, fast fashion companies themselves use ten washes as a benchmark for an item’s longevity, which means these trendy-yet-affordable clothes are meant to last only up to ten washes.
Though fast fashion has indeed addressed consumers’ desires for fast, affordable and stylish clothing collections, it has also raised many ethical and environmental concerns.
The need for speedy production has led to exploitation of workers, cheap labor and unpleasant working environments such as the case in garment factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia and other developing countries, which serve as manufacturing powerhouses for the world’s fashion industry.
Those garments thrown away by fast fashion consumers on a seasonal basis (if not monthly) builds up millions of dumped clothing that further leads to clogged landfills.
Even clothes donated for a good cause can create a new crisis. It’s called the ‘how-to-get-rid-of-the-overflowing-volume-of-dumped-clothing’ crisis, which is an additional disaster especially in places like the evacuation centers, refugee camps, disaster areas, and sadly also at charity centers.
These are merely glimpses of what our buying decisions and clothing consumptions mean.
Just as consumption is based on personal preferences and values,
opting for slow or fast fashion remains a personal choice.
Having said that, do know one thing for sure: your buying decisions have the power to make or break, sustain or destroy.
You fashion choice has the power to create a better quality of life for you,
your children and children’s children. Choose wisely!
♥ DOS WOMAN ♥
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Myra Colis is a contributing writer for DOS Women and also an advocate for slow, ethical and sustainable fashion. She writes articles on lifestyle, leadership, community events, culture, health and entrepreneurship, among many other topics. When not busy with her entrepreneurial initiative, E3 Data Intelligence Services, you can find her volunteering for non-profit organizations empowering women and women entrepreneurs in the Netherlands.
More About Fast Fashion VS Slow Fashion
The following table differentiating two distinctive fashion systems is developed by authors S. Jun and B. Jin based on literature review for their study on ‘Sustainable Development of Slow Fashion Businesses: Customer Value Approach.’